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NO. 201- 



aiiTomi& « V. 

Bulletin 201-78 April 1979 





AUG 6 1979 



SCOTT E. FRANKLIN, Chairman, Newhall 
ENID PEARSON, Vice Chairman, Palo Alto 

F. K. AUIBURY, Fresno 
THOMAS K. BEARD, Stockton 

Orviile L. Abbott, Executive Officer and Chief Engineer 

Tom Y. Fujimoto, Assistant Executive Officer 

The Commission serves as a policy advisory body to the Director 
of Water Resources on all California water resources matters 
and provides a water resources forum for the people of the 
State, acts as liaison between the legislative and executive 
branches of State government, and coordinates federal, State, 
and local water resources efforts. 

EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor 
State of California 

HUEY D. JOHNSON, Secretary for Resources 
The Resources Agency 

RONALD B. ROBIE, Director 
Department of Water Resources 

CHARLES R. SHOEMAKER, Acting Deputy Director 

GERALD H. MERAL. Deputy Director 

ROBERT W. JAMES, Deputy Director 

JACK B. JOHNSTON, Acting Assistant Director 

Division of Planning 

Enuironmental Measurement Branch 

Water Resources Evaluation Section 


Illustrations by Dave Hammons 


. . . in a very important area of water management — making the conservation of water 
an everyday part of our lives. We have made some progress toward this goal, but much 
more remains to be done. The Department of Water Resources is firmly committed to a 
policy of maximum practical water conservation and, for the past four years, has been 
pressing toward this end. 

We know that Californians can and will reduce their consumption of water, when 
they are motivated to do so. Although the 1 976-77 drought was a difficult period for 
many of us, a great deal has been learned from it. For one thing, when absolutely 
necessary, people will cut their water use dramatically, even when it means greatly 
altering their habits of living. Those served by the Marin Municipal Water District in 
Marin County, one of the most critical areas, showed what could be done by dropping 63 
percent from their pre-drought level. Such a drastic rate of conservation cannot be 
expected in normal times, of course. For another, we learned that most people can 
significantly reduce their water use without seriously hampering their way of life. 

The most positive finding has been this: even though the winter of 1977-78 was 
unusually wet, and water supplies returned to normal, many areas have continued to 
use less water than they did in 1 975, the year before the drought began. In communities 
on the east side of San Francisco Bay, for example, consumption in 1 978 was about 24 
percent below that of 1975, and, across the Bay, San Franciscans were using at least 20 
percent less than in pre-drought days. In Los Angeles, where the drought's effects were 
milder, water use in 1 978 declined 1 2 percent below 1 975. Although all the figures for 
1 978 are not yet in, partial reports indicate that many smaller cities also appear to be 
using considerably less water now than would otherwise be expected. This seems to be 
true, even when climatic differences and other influences on rates of use are taken into 

Although water conservation is oneof the keystones for future water management in 
California, several other important elements must also be considered. Among these are 
recycling water, reaching agreements that will achieve the best for the Delta and its 
future, using ground water reservoirs for storage in wet years against the demands of 
dry years, and ensuring future water supplies for the State Water Project. 

As the Department moves ahead on these fronts, the tasks it faces are clear. By far, 
the greatest of these will be unifyingthedivergent views among the State's many water 
interests so that we can get on with jobs before us. 



Department of Water Resources 

The Resources Agency/ 

State of California 











Wiiiiam Hammond Hall 





Winter and spring of 1977-78 were 
extraordinarily wet for the great farmlands of the 
San Joaquin Valley, particularly in the 
southernmost portion. Thick falls of snow from the 
Pacific storms sweeping across the region left 
behind an accumulation of snow on the peaks and 
slopes of the Sierra Nevada that ultimately grew to 
about two-and-a-half times its normal depth. The 
snowpack was not only extremely deep. It was also 
a great deal wetter than usual. 

Drenching rains fell in double the normal 
amounts for that part of California, swelling the 
rivers, and near-empty reservoirs in the western 
foothills of the Sierras filled steadily to levels that 
had not been seen since the pre-drought days of 

Although the drastic change in the weather was 
not entirely unwelcome, the abundance of water 
that streamed into the valley taxed the flow- 
carrying capacity of rivers, creeks, and canals, and 
severely tested the ability of flood control facilities 
to contain the twice-normal runoff. Conditions 
became even more trying when the thick, wet 
snowpack began melting and releasing the water it 
held. Controlled releases of rainfall and snowmelt 
water necessary to regulate reservoirs further 
burdened the already saturated valley floor. As a 
consequence, some major rivers reached near- 
flood levels on several occasions from February 
through May 

More than once the San Joaquin River rose to 
warning stage, mandating the use of patrols to 
watch for signs of levee erosion and other damage. 
The river's high, sustained flows were sufficient to 
cause seepage in some locations, delaying the 
planting of crops, and residents of trailer parks and 
resort areas near the river were evacuated for a 
time. Flows in the Kings River began rising in March 
and continued upward, peaking just at the 
channel's maximum capacity on the first of May. 

Considerable flooding did in fact occur in some 
places but, with very careful management, the flood 
flows were restricted for the most part to lands 
devoted to farming. This meant that planting of 
some of the best crop lands, particularly in the 
Tulare lakebed, had to be postponed until later in the 
season when the water could be removed by 
pumps. The result was a significant dollar loss to 
farmers. Major expenditures were necessary to 
strengthen levees to protect additional lands from 
flooding and to transfer water to areas where it 
would cause less damage. 

The San Joaquin Valley, from the San Joaquin 
River south, received enough runoff from ram and 

melting snow, which, if it had not been most ener- 
getically controlled, would have caused an estimated 
$10 million agricultural loss in the Tulare Lake area 
alone (based on an estimate by Tulare Lake farming 
interests of about $1 2 per hectare, or about $30 per 

On the whole, the situation could have spelled 
disaster, had it not been for a lot of far-sighted 
planning and the prudent manner in which the 
water was channeled north and south from the 
Tulare Basin, as well as throughout it. Some weeks 
before the onrush of water hit, local water agencies, 
private farming interests, and federal and State 
government agencies, noting the above-average 
precipitation, began laying plans to minimize the 
flooding that appeared certain to develop. 
Throughout the spring, as events lived up to their 
expectations, these many water organizations 
worked closely together to maneuver water to 
locations where it could do less damage or, better 
yet, where it could be put to beneficial use. 

The biggest moves took large amounts of water 
from rivers to canals or flood control bypasses 
inside the Basin or transported it by canal outside 
the Basin. Water was diverted to ground water 
percolation areas to replenish underground 
supplies, and farmers diverted as much water as 
they could possibly use for irrigation. For the first 
time, water flowed through the gates of the Kern 
River Intertie, a control structure that was built to 
provide a way of transporting water from the Kern 
River into the California Aqueduct, a feature of the 
State Water Project. The Aqueduct normally flows 
southward, but last spring, to handle the heavy 
runoff passing through the Intertie, the direction of 
its flow was altered so that some of the water could 
be pumped north as well. This water was used for 
irrigation in parts of San Joaquin Valley. The 
additional southbound water was pumped over the 
Tehachapi Mountains through the facilities of the 
State Water Project for use in southern California. 

The high flows in the San Joaquin River also 
required special action. Water was directed from 
the river through bypasses in the San Joaquin Flood 
Control Project, thus relieving the pressure on river 
levees downstream from the point of diversion. 


The floor of Tulare Basin, which covers more than 
1 3 000 square kilometres in the southernmost part 
of San Joaquin Valley, is effectively separated from 
the rest of the valley by a slight, imperceptible east- 
west ridge of alluvial material deposited by the 

Kings River, The gradual but definitive slope, which 
rises at most only about 8 metres, forms the 
northern boundary of the Basin and causes streams 
flowing intothe valley north of it to drain north to the 
Delta and those south of it to drain into the Tulare 
Basin. The Basin is ringed on its remaining sides by 
the Sierra Nevada, the Tehachapi Mountains, and 
the coastal ranges. The result is a vast, saucer-like 
expanse of land havmg no natural escape routes for 
the winter and spring runoff that flows down the 
streambeds leading in on nearly all sides. 

Four principal rivers carry water into the Basin 
from the western slopes of the Sierras: the Kings, 
the Kaweah, the Tule, and the Kern Rivers. All are 
controlled by dams and reservoirs in the Sierra 
foothills. The Kings River, the most northern of the 
four, flows along the crest of the cross-valley ridge 
and then splits near the center of the valley floor, 
with one branch. Kings River North, flowing north 
into the San Joaquin River, and the other. Kings 
River South, flowing south into the bed of Tulare 

The Kaweah and Tule Rivers flow directly intothe 
lakebed. The Kern River, the southernmost of the 
four large streams, flows down the crest of another 
smaller alluvial ridge between the cities of 
Bakersfield and Oildale to a diversion located north 
of Buena Vista Lake. Some of the river's flow can be 
diverted by channels south to farmlands on the floor 
of Buena Vista Lake and north to farmlands on the 
floor of Tulare Lake. (Neither "lake" has held any 
water for many years.) 

As it crosses the valley floor, the water carried in 
these four rivers is reduced by irrigation diversions 
and by natural seepage into the channel beds. Only 
occasionally do flows reach either of the lakebeds. 

Three smaller streams whose flows are not 
restrained by dams or other control structures also 
descend onto the floor of the Basin from the Sierra 
Nevada; Deer Creek, White River, and Poso Creek. 

In the valley, the Kings, Kaweah, and Tule Rivers 
cross the Friant-Kern Canal, an important water 
conveyance facility of the federal Central Valley 
Project that carries San Joaquin River water south 
for use by CVP contracting water agencies. The 
canal terminates at the Kern River. Water can be 
released from the canal into any of the rivers, but 
there are no permanent physical connections for 
diverting river flows into the canal. However, when 
necessary, temporary pump installations can be 
used to withdraw water from the rivers and 
discharge it into the canal. This action, taken last 
spring, was in fact a vitally important part of the 
entire battle to prevent flooding. 

Once a large body of water across which 
steamboats churned regularly, Tulare Lake has 
been gradually reclaimed over the years and 
transformed into one of the most richly productive 
agricultural regions in California. Because its 777 
square kilometres occupy the lowest part of the 
Tulare Basin, the old lakebed forms a natural sink 
that receives and holds much of the region's runoff 
during seasons of heavy rain and snow. All excess 
water that is not captured by the foothill reservoirs 
or does not seep below ground flows into the 

Tulare Lake farming interests, which are 
represented by several reclamation districts, have 
developed a highly efficient method of controlling 
this flood water. They have built an extensive 
system of levees that crisscross the lakebed, 
forming large rectangular cells, called polders. The 
levees may extend for as much as 6V2 to 9y2 
kilometres to a side. Canals, diversion structures, 
and pumps may direct the incoming flows into 
certain polders and then move them to portions 
where the land is less productive, thus protecting 
the more valuable land in other portions. Because 
the levee heights are controlled, some of the water 
may also flow over the lower levees into some 

As it turned out, one totally unpredictable factor 
helped ease the threat of floods somewhat in the 
spring of 1978. Normally, spring melt-off is under 
way by April and continues at an accelerating pace 
in May and June, at which time most of the snow is 
gone. Sometimes, however, spring temperatures 
are cooler than usual, and the start of thesnowmelt 
period is delayed. When this happens, some of the 
water contained in the snow is lost slowly by 
evaporating into the air or seeping into the ground 
while the pack still rests on the mountains. Just 
such a condition occurred in 1 978. April, May, and 
June were markedly cooler, and, fortunately for the 
flood situation, the deep, wet snowpack failed to 
produce the immense rates of flow it might have. 
Even so, things were touch and go for many weeks. 


One principal concern during the spring was 
regulating the runoff entering several major Sierra 
Nevada reservoirs — Lake Millerton on the San 
Joaquin River, Pine Flat Lake on the Kings River, 
Lake Kaweah (also called Terminus Reservoir) on 
the Kaweah River, Success Lake on the Tule River, 
and Isabella Lake on the Kern River. Lake Millerton 
IS operated by the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation, and 
the others, by the U. S Army Corps of Engineers. 

Don Pedro Res ■ 
Lake Mc Clure 

-^me Flat Res^ 



Wutchumno Ditch • 




ISue/JO k/s/o Lake 

Twitchell Res. 

Every year, before the Sierra snowpack begins 
melting, forecasts of runoff are prepared from field 
surveys of the depth and water content of the snow. 
From this information, reservoir operators plan 
their schedule of releases. Water released to make 
way for the influx of snowmelt is limited to the 
capacity of the river channels below each dam. 

Timing of releases is critical in operating a 
reservoir. If the operator fails to reserve enough 
storage space for inflow from upstream, the 
reservoir will rise too far and top its spillway, and 
the rush of water into the stream below can 
overload the channel, possibly flooding nearby 
lands. On the other hand, if the operator releases 
too much water too early in the season, the 
reservoir may not fill during the runoff period, and 
the amount of water available later for summer 
irrigation will be reduced. 

To properly regulate the rising reservoirs last 
spring, flood control releases were made from Lake 
Millerton in February and from Pine Flat Lake m 
early March. Local efforts were begun to divert as 
much water as possible for early-season irrigation 
of unplanted lands (a regular practice to prepare the 
soil for some crops) and for ground water storage. 
The Bureau of Reclamation, operator of the Friant- 
Kern and Madera Canals, was also delivering 
maximum quantities of contracted-for water to its 
water service contractors along the two canals. 
Contractors served by the Friant-Kern Canal used 
water to recharge ground water basins. Additional 
water was diverted by the Bureau to the Madera 
Canal and released down theChowchilla River, Ash 
Slough, and Berenda Slough to be percolated 
through the permeable beds of these channels to 
ground water storage. 

Despite all these operations, a great deal more 
water than usual flowed through the San Joaquin 
Valley Flood Control Projects. 


Because of the damage caused by water seeping 
through and under the levees along the San 
Joaquin River, the Department of Water Resources 
asked the Bureau of Reclamation to deliver the 
potential flood water through the Friant-Kern Canal 
to lands in theSan Joaquin Valley being irrigated by 
wells pumping from seriously depleted ground 
water basins. However, present federal reclamation 
law restricts delivery of water from federal projects 
to individually owned farms that are no larger than 
160 acres (the so-called 1 60-acre limitation). This 
prevented the water from being delivered from the 

canal. The damaging high water continued to flow 
down the San Joaquin, and irrigation with ground 
water went on. 

Greater success was achieved in managing the 
high flows in the Kings River. According to the 
records of the Kings River Water Association, no 
flood control releases from Pine Flat Lake had to 
flow south from the Kings to the Tulare Lake area. 

The Kings River North began rising in April 1 978 
until It reached a peak flow of 1 40 cubic metres per 
second at Crescent Weir on May 1. That was the 
limit of the channel's capacity. The stream then 
fluctuated between 1 22 and 1 40 cubic metres per 
second for more than two weeks and then slowly 
receded. By the end of May, its flow finally dropped 
to 28 cubic metres per second. 

On May 3, the Department of Water Resources 
declared a pre-emergency flood condition in the 
basins of the Kings, Kaweah, and Kern Rivers. This 
type of declaration means an around-the-clock vigil 
of the endangered area must go into effect without 
delay. Crews were dispatched immediately by the 
Department and the Kings River Conservation 
District to patrol the levee system on the Kings River 
North. By the middle of the month, the rivers flow 
had fallen to a safe level, and patrolling ended on 
May 15. On May 22, the San Joaquin River was 
added to the pre-emergency declaration because of 
its extremely high flows. 


Floods in the bed of Tulare Lake have three 
sources: intense local rainstorms; prolonged 
general rainstorms in the Sierra Nevada, the 
Tehachapi Mountains, and the Coast Range; and 
rapid melting of the Sierra snowpack. Rain-caused 
floods, which are characterized by high 
streamflows lasting only a few days, inflict damage 
chiefly on unharvested crops and on levees along 
the rivers. 

During irrigation in most years, mobile diesel 
engine pumps are set in place to pump water from 
river channels into the lake's canal systems to be 
distributed for irrigation. Flood water reaching the 
lakebed does not always seriously impair 
operations there. If only a small volume of water 
enters, it can be disposed of by storing it in the 
innermost leveed polder and pumping it out later to 
adjacent fields. However, when streamflows are 
very high, the inflow is distributed into a succession 
of polders. In 1967, an unusually wet year, the 
excess runoff was stored in two polders, flooding a 
total of 7 000 hectares. During the heavy snowmelt 

C'liiirlrsv Murrav, Burns, and K:enlen 

During spring 1978. Tulare Lake interests adopted various means ol 
helping relieve flood threatened San Joaqum Vallev. In one special 
operation in Tulare County, water was diverted for a time from the 
Kaweah River near Lake Kaweah into the Wutchumna Ditch, a local 
distribution channel, and sent down the ditch to the Friant Kern 
Canal. In the view shown here, about 10 kilometres west of Lake 
Kaweah and not far from the town of Woodlake. the water from the 
Kaweah is being pumped from the Wutchumna Ditch (far left) over 
an embankment and into the canal (far right)- This water was 

ultimately transported out of the valley through the canal to the 
California Aqueduct and then to southern California. The five D-7 
tracklayer pump units (center left) were set up at this site 
temporarily and operated 24 hours a day from May 10 to May 26 
Dunng that period, they transferred more than 6 300 cubic 
dekametres of water into the canal at an average rate of nearly one 
cubic metre per second. These pumps, which are uniquely suited to 
very large farming developments, can be loaded on trucks and 
moved relatively quickly wherever they are needed. 

year of 1969, the last year (until 1978) that the 
lakebed flooded, many more polders were 
inundated, covering about 36 000 hectares. 

In 1 978, with twice the customary rainfall, runoff 
into Tulare Lake was again high. Flows from local 
surface drainage and excess water from Lake 
Kaweah, Success Lake, Deer Creek, and some 
coastal mountain streams all fed into the area, 
flooding about 32 000 hectares. The loss to 
agriculture was about $3.3 million. Nearly a third of 
the inflow came from westside streams and from 
water draining from adjoining lands. Deer Creek, an 
uncontrolled stream, contributed heavily, and sodid 
the Kaweah River, even though it is controlled by a 
dam and some of its flow was diverted elsewhere. 
Only a relatively small amount of water came by 
way of the Kern River because of diversions through 
the Kern River Intertie and for ground water 
recharge and irrigation. 

Fortunately, not all the watercourses that flow 
toward Tulare Lake added to last year's inflow. No 
water released from Pine Flat Lake to the Kings 
River reached the lakebed because all of it was 
directed north. And until the White River broke over 
its bank and flowed into Deer Creek in February, 
none of this water entered the scene directly either. 
Despite action by the Alpaugh Irrigation District to 
control the White River by diverting some of the 
water for irrigation and ground water recharge, 
considerable flooding did occur inthe Alpaugh area. 

Runoff in Poso Creek, another uncontrolled 
stream, was contamed locally. Its excess flows were 
used to irrigate, to recharge underground reserves, 
and to supply the Kern National Wildlife Refuge. 


Problems related to the flood threat posed by the 
Kern River were especially critical. Water interests 
in the area, which had been planning for the period 
for some time, began taking direct action in March, 
when releases began from Isabella Lake upstream 
on the Kern. Representatives of water agencies 
started meeting once a week in Bakersfield to 
exchange information and jointly plan the 
management of Kern River water. Each agency 
estimated how much of the river flow could be 
recharged to ground water or used for irrigation 
within its district. The balance was designated for 
diversion into the California Aqueduct. Their 
operations were based on continually updated 
forecasts of streamflow by federal, State, and 
private forecasters. 

The strategy of the group during the period of 
abundant runoff was to encourage landowners to 
make use of surface water, rather than to pump 
ground water (an important factor because valley 
farmers had invested heavily in wells drilled during 
the 1976-77 drought). As one agency 
representative remarked: "When you've got 
surface water here, you use it." 

The group continued its meetings throughout the 
spring months. Agencies represented included the 
Hacienda Water District, the Consolidated 
Reclamation District No. 81 2, the North Kern Water 
Storage District, the Buena Vista Water Storage 
District, the Delta Lands Reclamation District No. 
770, the Henry Miller Water District, the Lost Hills 
Water District, the Kern Delta Water District, and 
the City of Bakersfield Water Department, along 
with federal and State agencies, private farming 
interests, and some engineering firms. 

Site of the Kern Rwer Intertte. a lew miles west ol Interstate Highwat; 
5, as it appeared in April 1969, when the heaviest snowpack on 
record at that time had accumulated on the Sierra Nevada. Intense, 
prolonged rainfall fell during the winter of i968-69, causing major 
flood damage in many places in California. The Kern River, carrying 
several times its normal flow, spilled over a wide area and some of 
the water was carried through a weir into the Buena Vista outlet 
canal, leading toward Tulare Lake. No water appears in the 
California Aqueduct because it was not yet in operation. 

The Kern River Intertie, a flood control structure 
located about 32 kilometres southwest of 
Bakersfield where the Kern River and the California 
Aqueduct meet, played a big part in the successful 
control of the river. Built by the Corps of Engineers, 
in cooperation with the Department of Water 
Resources (DWR) and Tulare Lake and Kern River 
interests, the Intertie provides a relief valve for the 
river's flow. Depending on downstream water 
requirements, its gates can pass nearly 100 cubic 
metres of water per second into the Aqueduct. 

Operation of the Intertie, the first since it was 
constructed two years before, began on April 6, 
when DWR activated the gates. To reverse the 
Aqueduct's flow and send some water north, six 
temporary pumps were installed about 37 
kilometres north of the Intertie at Check Structure 
25, one of the permanent gates positioned across 
the Aqueduct about every 1 6 kilometres to regulate 
its flow. The pumps, which were put in place by the 
Delta Lands Reclamation District No 770 and Cohn 
Central Consolidated Reclamation District No. 761 , 
in cooperation with DWR, were in place from May 5 
to June 21. They pushed some of the Kern River 
inflow north to serve the Lost Hills Water District 
and the Buena Vista Water Storage District. 

Pumps were also installed at another Aqueduct 
control structure farther north by Consolidated 
Reclamation District No. 812, but, as it turned out, 
these did not have to be used. Pumping at Check 
Structure 25 was halted on May 26, by which time 
the flows in the Kern River had markedly subsided. 

I he Kern River Intertie in operation in May 1978. The nver, now 
more closely confined by levees, is flowing through the Intertie into 
the Aqueduct, while water in the Buena Vista outlet canal passes 
beneath it in several large pipes. Fine particles of storm debris 
floating in the Aqueduct appear as dark streaks. 

The gates of the Intertie were finally closed for the 
season on June 28, shutting off the river's flow into 
the Aqueduct. 

The operational versatility of the Aqueduct was 
clearly demonstrated during this period by its ability 
to reverse its customary direction of flow and send 
this water northward. While they were in service, 
the pumps diverted a total of 22 200 cubic 
dekametres of water that would otherwise have 
entered the Tulare lakebed. The cost of installing 
and operating the pumps at Check 25, as well as 
some costs of Aqueduct operation directly related to 
the pumping, were met by the two reclamation 
districts. No. 770 and No. 761. 


A great many more steps were taken to maneuver 
the oversupply of water in the southern San 
Joaquin Valley. On May 16, the State Reclamation 
Board approved an application from Delta Lands 
Reclamation District No. 770 to reinstall four low- 
level retention dams in the Kern River that had been 
removed earlier in the season by local interests 
because of the heavy runoff. The dams were used to 
divert excess flows to lands adjacent to the river that 
are owned or controlled by the district, thus 
preventing the water from reaching Tulare Lake. 

Twenty temporary pumps were installed at weirs 
along Kings River South to move water north from 
Tulare Lake to Kings River North and thence to the 
San Joaquin River. The entire operation called for 
the cooperation of many organizations and 
individuals. These included Cohn Central 
Consolidated Reclamation District No. 761, Delta 
Lands Reclamation District No. 770, Tulare Lake 


Basin Water Storage District, Lower San Joaquin 
Levee District, Kings County Department of Public 
Works, the Kings River Watermaster, Kings River 
Conservation District, the Corps of Engineers, and 
private landowners along the Crescent Bypass. The 
pumps were in place between March 29 and April 
1 1 . Records indicate that the river level may have 
been raised only about two centimetres by the 
short-term additional inflow 

In May a particularly significant operation took 
place. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern 
California (MWD) reduced its intake of water from 
the Colorado River so that it could make greater use 
of the water available from the California Aqueduct, 
and, between May 10 and May 26, about 1 1 200 
cubic dekametres of Kaweah River water that had 
been headed toward Tulare Lake was pumped into 
the Friant-Kern Canal, carried south, and then 
released into the Kern River. It then passedthrough 
the Intertie into the California Aqueduct for delivery 
south over the Tehachapis to MWD. This water was 
limited to industrial and municipal uses by MWD 
because it had been conveyed in the Friant-Kern 
Canal, a federal facility, and was therefore subject 
to the acreage restriction of federal reclamation 
law. The costs of pumping this water from the river 
into the canal, the conveyance charges levied by the 
Bureau of Reclamation for use of the canal, and 
excess energy costs incurred by MWD were paid for 
by the Tulare Lake farming interests 

Courtesy Murray. Burns, and Kienhn 
Aerial view of the pump installation at the junction of the Friant Kern 
Canal (center) and the Wutchumna Ditch. 

The importance of this particular operation lay in 
the fact that this was the first time the Bureau had 
permitted water districts in the Tulare Lake area to 
pump water from the Kaweah into the canal for 
ultimate delivery to southern California. 

In San Bernardino County, the Mojave Water 
Agency agreed to purchase about 28 000 cubic 
dekametres of water from the State Water Project 

for a program to demonstrate the practicability of 
"banking" water in natural underground reservoirs. 
The water was delivered to Silverwood Lake, a 
surface water reservoir of the SWP, through the 
California Aqueduct and almost immediately 
released to the Mojave River, to be percolated into 
the ground for storage. It will be withdrawn by the 
Mojave Water Agency over a period of several 
years. (This operation is discussed elsewhere in this 
issue in the article, "The Search for More Water for 
the State Water Project") 

Rear uieiv of pumps taking water from Wutchumrta Ditch (not visible 
in this view). 


On the night of May 25, there occurred an 
incident that, while not part of the spring flood 
control effort, illustrated how effective water 
management canavert other types of crises too. The 
Department of Water Resources received word 
from the Bakersfield police department that oil from 
a broken pipeline was spilling into the Kern River 
near Bakersfield. This meant that the oil was 
moving rapidly down river, through the Intertie, and 
into the California Aqueduct. 

DWR promptly closed the Intertie to stop the flow 
into the Aqueduct and isolated the oil that had 
already entered it by shutting two flow control 
structures on the Aqueduct, one upstream from the 
Intertie and one downstream from It. That checked 
the spread of oil in the Aqueduct, alleviating one 
immediate concern, but it left another: what to do 
about the great volume of Kern River water that was 
now deadended at the Intertie. There were no 
means of controlling this flow below the point of the 
oil spill, and without some other action, the water 
would rise rapidly over the river levees upstream 
from the Intertie and pour over adjoining roads and 


Several moves were made to prevent this from 
happening. The Kern River Watermaster ordered a 
total shutdown of Kaweah River flow that was 
entering the Kern River at that time by way of the 
Friant-Kern Canal. The Corps of Engineers greatly 
reduced releases from Isabella Lake. Close to the 
Intertie, the extra water was diverted northward in 
the Buena Vista outlet canal in the direction of 
Tulare Lake, significantly increasing the flow in the 
canal. Quick action by the water districts managing 
this channel succeeded m diverting the water onto 
vacant land or onto farmlands whose owners had 
already been reimbursed for crop damage. 

The oil was removed by absorbent booms placed 
in the Aqueduct by DWR and in the flume just 
behind the Intertie by the Lion Division of Tosco 
Petroleum Corporation, from whose pipeline the oil 
had spilled. Clean-up was not as difficult as 
expected because much less oil had actually 
entered the river than had at first been feared. 
When the task was complete, DWR opened the 
Intertie again very gradually and, two days after the 
spill had been reported, the facility was back in full 


When a flood fight is under way, hours can count. 
Decisions must be made quickly and acted upon 
without delay. Such operation would normally be 
expected of a well-coordinated organization under 
the direction of a single authority. This is what 
happens when, as occurs almost every year 
somewhere in California, flooding of some type 
strikes. State and federal agencies responsible for 
combating floods perform their work together 

The flood crisis that hung over the southern San 
Joaquin Valley in the spring of 1 978 was met in an 
entirely different way, with local, independent 
water organizations exhibiting a special kind of 
teamwork to solve their common problem. The 
measure of their achievement is shown by the fact 
that no lives were endangered, no private or public 
property was seriously harmed, and the flood water 
that did accumulate was successfully confined 
within levees and channels until it could be moved 
elsewhere, most often for some good use. The 
effects of this flood fight were chiefly economic, 
involving heavy expenditures of funds to contain 
and transport the water. Dollar losses were also 
sustained from delayed planting, which later 
reduced crop yields. 

The spirit of cooperation demonstrated by the 
large number of local water agencies and the 
federal and State agencies involved over several 
very trying months is a credit to every organization 
and individual that took part in averting certain 
widespread damage to some of California's finest 

This article was prepared in the Division of Flood Management, 
Flood Forecasting Branch, Sacramento, by 

Helen Jo^ce Peters and Kenneth H. L/oyd 

Branch Chief Water Resources Engineering Associate 

The following organizations were among those 
involved in flood control operations in the southern 
San Joaquin Valley in spring 1978. 

Alpaugh Irrigation District 

Arvin Edison Water Storage District 

Bakersfield (City of) Water Department 

Buena Vista Water Storage District 

Cohn Central Consolidated Reclamation District No. 761 

Consolidated Reclamation District No. 812 

Deer Creek Storm Water District 

Delta Lands Reclamation District No. 770 

El Rico Reclamation District No. 1618 

Hacienda Water District 

Henry Miller Water District 

Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District 

Kern County Water Agency 

Kern Delta Water District 

Kmgs County Department of Public Works 

Kings River Conservation District 

Kings River Water Association 

Lindsay-Strathmore Irrigation District 

Lost Hills Water District 

Lower San Joaquin Levee District 

Lower Tule River Irrigation District 

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California 

Mojave Water Agency 

North Kern Water Storage District 

Pixley Irrigation District 

Terra Bella Irrigation District 

Tulare Flood Control and Water Conservation District 

Tulare Irrigation District 

Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District 

Tulare Lake Drainage District 

Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa Water Storage District 

Wutchumna Water Company 

Kaweah River Watermaster 
Kern River Watermaster 
Kings River Watermaster 
Tule River Watermaster 

U. S. Army Corps of Engineers 

U. S. Bureau of Reclamation 

California Department of Water Resources 



DWR Publications 

"Kaweah River: Flows, Diversions, and 
Storage— 1 961 -1 970." 

Bulletin 49-D. January 1977. Free. 

"Kaweah River: Flows, Diversions, and 
Storage— 1 970-1 975. " 

Bulletin 49-E. April 1978. Free. 

"Water Conditions in California." 

Bulletin 120-78. Free. 

Report No. 1 February 1978 

Report No. 2 March 1978 ^"^ 

Report No. 3 April 1978 

Report No. 4 May 1978 

Basic Data Supplement July 1978 

DWR Films 

"Hydro Hercules." 14 minutes. (1977) 
The A. D. Edmonston Pumping Plant lifts water 
nearly 600 metres to enable the State Water 
Project to cross the Tehachapi Mountains. This 
film shows the enormous facilities located south 
of Bakersfield that accomplish this task. 

"California's White Treasure." 15 minutes. (1978) 
Every winter the Department of Water Resources 
measures the Sierra Nevada snowpack to 
determine its depth and water content. This film 
follows a snow survey team as they ski into the 
mountains to collect the data from which 
predictions of runoff are prepared 

Information on the materials listed here is given on the 
inside back cover. 



California's yearly supply of water is limited 
largely by the caprices of the weather. Each winter 
we receive just so much rain and so much snow, 
and the widely varying amounts that fall determine 
whether the ensuing months will be a time of over- 
abundance, a time of drought, or something 
between the two extremes. Ground water, our other 
major source, supplements the supply in many 
parts of the State, particularly when precipitation is 
sparse, but this resource also depends on 
replenishment by runoff from rain and snow. 

Since we must live within the bounds set by these 
sources, the inescapable conclusion is that we must 
learn to make the most of our water resources. This 
is already occurring m some communities where 
people are either using less water than before the 
drought or, where the rates of use have again risen, 
they seem to be using less than they would, had 
there not been a drought. Evidently the relative 
suddenness with which we discovered that our 
water is not limitless came as a jolt to many 
Californians, and they have not forgotten the 

Now that conditions are back to normal, for the 
present, at least, we must remember that drought 
and water shortages can recur, and it is essential for 
us to save water wherever practicable. The 
Department of Water Resources is working hard to 
bring that message to California through its various 
water conservation programs. 


Starting in 1979, DWR will be looking at the 
continuing effectiveness of a residential water 
conservation program conducted m 1 977, in which 
kits containing water -saving plumbing fittings were 
distributed to more than 450,000 households in the 
San Diego metropolitan area, Santa Cruz County, 
and selected communities in Fresno, El Dorado, Los 
Angeles, and Ventura Counties. The kits included a 
variety of devices designed to restrict the flow of 
water from showerheads and toilets so that their 
relative effectiveness and acceptability could be 
compared later. They were offered for sale in two 
study areas and were free in the other four. 

Overall, the devices were well received. They are 
saving enough water to serve about 25,000 persons 
yearly and, by cutting the need to heat water for 

showers (the preferred type of bathing in the areas 
studied), they are saving enough energy to meet the 
needs of about 3,200 homes a year. Evaluation 
studies have shown that the program is more than 
earning its way by returning five dollars for every 
dollar invested, based on a five-year working life of 
the devices 

The follow-up study of this program will be 
carried out in San Diego and in Ventura County to 
find out how many devices are still in use and how 
well they are working. 


Students in kindergarten through the sixth grade 
in many California schools are learning about water 
and the whys and hows of water saving, as the 
result of the Water Awareness Program, a 
cooperative educational project of the California 
Department of Education and the Department of 
Water Resources that began in 1977. Featuring in 
the fourth-to-sixth grade segment the adventures of 
"Captain Hydro, the hero of water conservation ", a 
cartoon character created by the East Bay Municipal 
Water District, the programs instructional 
materials are teaching children about water 
conservation and water's vital role in human, 
animal, and plant life. DWR supplements the 
curriculum package with teachers' booklets 
specially tailored to give water information for 
differing regions of the State. 

A Spanish language version for children who are 
predominantly Spanish-speaking is also available 
for fourth through sixth grades It is based on a 
character called "Capitan TIaloc" (named for an 
ancient Aztec water god). 

DWR serves as the lead agency to inform local 
water agencies and schools about the program, to 
distribute the classroom materials, and to train 
people to use the materials. About 1 20,000 sets of 
workbooks and teachers' guides were sold during 
the 1 977-78 school year at a cost to the schools of 
about 35 cents per student for the average 
classroom. About 5,000 teachers have received 
training at 13 special workshops under the 

In the coming months, materials appropriate for 
seventh and eighth grade students will also be 



Promoting the use of water-saving landscaping 
and irrigation practices is another part of DWR's 
water conservation efforts. As a demonstration of 
what can be accomplished with low water-use 
plants, during the drought DWR transformed a 
vacant city lot in Sacramento into a thriving garden 
spot, using only selected species of shrubs, flowers, 
and other plants that require less water. The garden 
is complete now and is being cared for by a local 
community service organization. DWR has found 
that one of the most effective ways of spreading the 
word about conservation landscaping is getting 
local groups actively involved in demonstration 
projects such as this. 

In another landscaping project aimed at saving 
water, DWR recently sponsored a demonstration in 
Oakland in which the front yards and parking strips 
in the 1 600 block of 84th Street were planted with 
drought-tolerant ornamental vegetation. The city of 
Oakland has joined the effort by planning to develop 
mini-parks in the area, usmg the same species of 
plants that DWR selected for use in the 
demonstration block. Private industry and federal 
agencies are in the process of considering funding 
of additional projects based on this program. 

The 84th Street project was started by a 
neighborhood association, and DWR was assisted 
by several organizations — the Neighborhood 
Design Center of Oakland, the California 
Conservation Corps, the East Bay Municipal Water 
District, Merritt Community College, the University 
of California, and the California Department of 

In a related area, this past winter DWR sponsored 
a Rainwater Cistern Conference, along with the 
Monterey Peninsula Municipal Water District, to 
promote the use of stored rainwaterfor landscaping 
irrigation. DWR hopes the meeting will lead to a 
pilot project in Monterey in which cisterns installed 
on the tops of buildings at a local high school will 
catch and store rainfall for later use in watering 
plants on the school grounds. 


Other current water conservation activities DWR 
is engaged in include monitoring more precisely the 
energy and water savings gained with low-flow 
showerheads and toilet flush-reducing devices. A 
test program that began in March 1978 is being 
conducted at a San Francisco motel. DWR is also 
working with the California Department of Housing 
and Community Development and local agencies, 
all of which are involved in enforcing revisions of 
the State Health and Safety Code that prohibit tank- 
type toilets using more than 13 25 litres of water 
per flush in new construction The law governing 
this went into effect in January 1978. In 1979, DWR 
plans to focus on industrial water conservation. It 
will also be monitoring regulations of the California 
Energy Commission covering low-flow shower and 
faucet fittings 

The savings California can achieve by conserving 
water are very real. We can gain in dollars by 
reducing the energy needed to pump, purify, 
transport, and heat water. We can also ensure 
ourselves of enough water, even when the weather 
fails us, if we conserve consistently. DWR will 
continue to explore every reasonable avenue to 
accomplish these goals. 



DWR Films 

DWR Publications 

"A Pilot Water Conservation Program". Bulletin 
191. October 1978. Eight separately-bound 
appendixes containing supporting data may be 
ordered individually. The main report and all 
appendixes are free. 

Appendix A — San Diego Metropolitan Area 
Appendix B — Santa Cruz County 
Appendix C — City of Sanger 
Appendix D — El Dorado Irrigation District 
Appendix E — City of El Segundo 
Appendix F — Community of Oak Park 
Appendix G — Device Testing 
Appendix H — Device Selection 

"Water Conservation in California". Bulletin 1 98 
May 1976. Free. 

"Agricultural Water Conservation Conference- 
Proceedings". June 23-24, 1976, University of 
California, Davis, California. In cooperation with the 
University of California Cooperative Extension 
Service. Free. 

"An Urban Water Conservation Conference- 
Proceedings". January 1 6-1 7, 1 976, Los Angeles, 
California. Sponsored by the California Department 
of Water Resources. Free. 

"A Selection of Water Conservation Program 
Aids". A catalog that tells where to obtain a wide 
variety of technical reports, educational materials, 
brochures, bumper stickers and envelope stuffers, 
and other publications on saving water. Prepared by 
the Department of Water Resources and the 
American Water Works Association. Free. 

"Drought-Tolerant, Water-Conserving Plants for 
California". In preparation. 

"Urban Planning and Design for Water 
Conservation". In preparation. 

(A list of other printed materials on water 
conservation is separately available from the 
Department of Water Resources, Urban Water 
Conservation Implementation Section, Room 
815-1, P 0. Box 388, Sacramento, CA 95802.) 

•What You Should Know About H^O". (1978) 
A series of six films on water for kindergarten 
through sixth grade, combining animation, on- 
camera interviews with children, and live-action 
sequences of water-related activities. Intended 
for use as a package, the films can also be ordered 

'City Water". 5 minutes 
Shows the many ways water is treated to improve 
its quality and used in urban areas and discusses 
how people can save water. 

The Water Cycle". 5y2 minutes. 
Begins with Dewey, an animated drop of water, 
tracing his journey from river to ocean, to clouds, 
to rain and snow, and back to lakes and rivers and 
underground storage. A simple model explains 
the entire water cycle. 

'Save Water". 5 minutes. 
An animated cartoon character explains that 
California does not have enough water to waste, 
especially in summer. On-camera scenes with 
children who relate how they, their families, and 
their neighbors waste water. Live sequences 
illustrate their comments. 

'Water for Farming". AVi minutes. 
An animated cartoon character explains that 
agriculture is the largest user of water in 
California and asks wherefarmersgettheirwater 
and how they use it. Children provide on-camera 
answers, and live sequences showing types of 
irrigation illustrate their comments. Several 
water conservation practices are shown to 
demonstrate efficient use of irrigation water. 

"Water for Industry". 5 minutes. 
An animated cartoon character explains how 
industry uses water to process food products. On- 
camera scenes with children and live sequences. 
Cleaning and recycling of water are shown as 
important ways of using water more efficiently. 

"Clean Water". SV? minutes 
An animated cartoon character asks why water 
must be purified before we drink it. Children 
answer in on-camera scenes. Operation of a 
fresh-water treatment plant is described, and the 
need to reuse poorer quality water for industry 
and agriculture is explained. 

Information on the materials listed here is given on the 
inside back cover. 



Highlights of the Commission 

For the first time in 67 years, California is 
scrutinizing its laws that govern rights to take and 
use water. Created by the Governor on May 11, 
1977, the Commission to Review California Water 
Rights Law has closely studied the complex matter 
of water rights in this State and has proposed 
several changes in existing law, as well as the 
enactment of important new laws. The work of this 
12-member body culminated in December 1978, 
when it submitted its report to the Governor. That 
document contains recommendations for 
legislation that will, if ultimately enacted into law, 
make significant changes in the way California 
water users manage their invaluable water 

Although the Commission was created in the 
midst of the 1976-77 drought, it was formed to 
address pervasive problems of California water 
rights law that have been around for many years. 
The drought was aggravating many of California's 
long-standing water problems and thus offered an 
excellent time to study the water rights system 
when the strengths and weaknesses of the existing 
system were more apparent. 

Out of a large possible range of topics and issues 
to consider, the Commission chose to study six m 
depth: appropriative rights to surface water; 
riparian rights; ground water rights; water 
conservation; water rights transfers; and instream 
water uses. Following the publication of detailed 
background papers on each of these subjects, the 
Commission held workshops in different areas of 
the State to learn the opinions of experts on each of 
these subjects and possible approaches to be taken 
to solve those problems. 

After an additional seven months of painstaking 
deliberation, the Commission released in August 
1978 a Draft Report containing proposals for 
legislation in four areas: achieving greater 
certainty in water rights; improving efficiency in 
water use; protecting instream uses of water; and 
effectively managing ground water resources. 
What the Commission recommended concerning 
appropriative rights, riparian rights, water 

conservation, and water rights transfers was 
melded into the two new categories of certainty and 

The Commission's proposals regarding increased 
certainty and efficiency are very modest. Although 
the Commission felt that criticism of California's 
unique dual system of rights to surface water — 
where appropriative water rights can be obtained by 
applying for a permit from the State and riparian 
rights exist by reason of ownership of land along a 
stream regardless of the permit system — is 
justified, it concluded that the established structure 
of water rights should be retained. It decided 
riparian rights should not be included in the 
administrative permit system. The Commission 
stated: "Riparian and appropriative rights have 
served as the foundation for billions of dollars worth 
of investment. They are property rights subject to 
constitutional protection. Their deficiencies are 
better remedied by making them more secure and 
their utilization more efficient than by eliminating 
them in favor of an untried system." 

The Commission recommends that greater 
certainty be achieved by expanding the use of the 
statutory adjudication procedure, which isprimarily 
an administrative process carried out by the State 
Water Resources Control Board to make a final 
determination of water rights on a stream or stream 
system. Several of the proposed changes would 
permit the Board to initiate statutory adjudications, 
include interconnected ground water in the 
process, if necessary, and require the State to 
assume more of the costs of statutory adjudications. 

The Commission further recommends, in the area 
of increasing certainty, that existing requirements 
to report diversion and use of water to the State be 
strengthened. The Commission also believes that 
no water rights should be acquired by prescription 
from now on. (A right is obtained by prescription as a 
result of actual use of water that belongs to 

Other recommendations are designed to increase 
incentives for more efficient use of water. The 
Commission recommends that less weight be given 


to local custom in determining whether water is 
being used in a reasonable beneficial manner, a 
fundamental requirement of the State Constitution. 
The Commission also recommends that the State 
Water Resources Control Board be permitted to 
issue an administrative cease and desist order 
where a person is violating a term or condition of a 
permit or license or is making an unauthorized 
diversion, and that the Board have the authority to 
enforce these orders. 

The Commission believesthat voluntary transfers 
of water by sale or lease should be encouraged. 
Transfers would be of particular value during 
serious shortages of water. The Commission 
emphasizes that greater efficiency in the use of 
water does not necessarily mean that water rights 
must be transferred permanently. Productivity may 
well be increased through short-term transfers of 

Instream protection is the third major area of 
recommended legislation. The Commission found 
that California's instream uses of water are in 
serious need of protection, particularly fisheries, 
but also wildlife, recreational, aesthetic, and scenic 
uses which the law already declares to be beneficial 
uses of water. Much attention has been given to 
rights to divert water from streams, but little has 
been done so far for instream uses. Existing laws 
are fragmentary, at best. 

The Commission has recommended two related 
remedies. The State Water Resources Control 
Board should set instream flow standards to use in 
making its administrative and adjudicatory 
decisions. These standards should state the 
amounts of flow needed to protect fishery, wildlife, 
aesthetic, scenic, and other uses of a stream on a 
stream-by-stream basis. The Commission 
recommends that, where instream flow standards 
are insufficient, the Board should develop 
compliance programs to ensure protection of 
beneficial instream uses. 

The final and probably most important 
recommendations made by the Commission 
concern ground water. Ground water supplies over 
40 percent of California's applied water demand. It 
is a tremendously valuable public resource, and yet 
its use is essentially unregulated, except in a few 
areas with management programs under way. The 
Commission concluded that California is 
experiencing severe and extensive ground water 
problems in important areas of the State, such as 
enormous overdraft costs, seawater intrusion and 
other types of water quality and environmental 
degradation, and land subsidence. TheCommission 

also concluded that, for the most part, adequate 
responses to those problems have not been and will 
not be developed without new legislation. 

The Commission has recommended that existing 
ground water problems be dealt with by enacting 
legislation in three areas: ground water 
management, adjudication of ground water rights, 
and conjunctive (combined) use of ground water 
and surface water resources. 

The Commission's proposed legislation states 
forcefully that there is a strong State policy and 
statewide public interest in protecting the State's 
ground water resources. The legislation is designed 
to protect the public's interest in the integrity of 
ground water resources, while at the same time 
allowing maximum flexibility in management 
programs. Flexibility is vital since the physical 
characteristics, conditions, and needs of different 
ground water areas differ so greatly throughout the 
State. A basic premise followed by the Commission 
is that ground water management should be 
required only where there are critical problems and 
only where effective management programs are not 
already under way. 

The Commission believes that the best 
opportunity for effective control will come from local 
management. Under its proposal, ground water 
management areas would be designated, mainly on 
the basis of the Department of Water Resources' 
work pursuant to Water Code Section 12924 
(Nejedly Bill, SB 1 505, 1 977). Local entities would 
have an opportunity to cooperate to select a ground 
water management authority to develop a manage- 
ment program and perform ground water manage- 
ment functions. Entities in a ground water man- 
agement area would have the option to form a manage- 
ment district to act as the authority for the area. Ground 
water management authorities would adopt ground 
water management programs for their areas and would 
transmit the programs to the State Water Resources 
Control Board for evaluation and comment. 

Future adjudications of ground water should be 
based on "fair and equitable apportionment of 
rights to extract ground water," according to the 
Commission, leaving to the courts broad discretion 
in settling disputes that may arise. Doctrines in case 
law concerning conjunctive water use would be 
codified, and local ground water management 
authorities would have the authority to control 
ground water basin storage. 

The Commission's work IS now in the hands of the 
Governor. At the very least, the Commission's 
efforts have substantially expanded understanding 


of existing California water rights law and of the 
problems involved with that law. Change is 
certainly needed in these areas, and it is to be hoped 
that the Commissions recommendations will be 
enacted soon. 

This article was prepared by 
Anne J. Schneider 
Staff Attorney 

The Governors Commission to Review 
California Water Rights Law 


"Final Report of the Governor's Commission to 
Review California Water Rights Law." December 
1978. $3.50. 

(Available from the California Department of 
General Services, Documents Section, P. O. Box 
1015, North Highlands, CA 95660. General 
inquiries on the subject may bedlrectedtotheState 
Water Resources Control Board, Office of Public 
Affairs, 1416 Ninth Street, Room 61 5, Sacramento, 
CA 95814. Phone (916) 322-8353.) 

Water Rights Law Commission 

Donald R Wright. Chairman 

Charles J. Meyers, Vice Chairman 

David E Hans 

John E. Bryson 

Ira J. Chrisman 

Arthur L. Littleworth 

Mrs. Mary Anne Mark 

James A. Cobey 

Virgil O'Siillivan 

Thomas M. Zucke 


Donald R. Wright, Chairman. Born Placentia, 
California, 1907; graduate, Stanford University, 
Harvard Law School; one of three original 
incorporators of Legal Aid Society of Pasadena; 
member, many educational, charitable, andcultural 
organizations. Chief Justice, Supreme Court of 
California, 1970 to 1977. Resides in Pasadena. 

Charles J. Meyers, Vice-Chairman. Born Dallas, 
Texas, 1925; graduate. Rice University, University 
of Texas, Columbia University; dean of Stanford 
University Law School; member, American Law 
Institute, American Bar Association; Texas Bar 
Association; member, Board of Advisors, Ecology 
Law Quarterly, Environmental Law Reporter. 
Resides in Stanford. 

John E. Bryson. Born New York City, New York, 
1943; graduate Stanford University, Yale Law 
School; founding attorney, Natural Resources 
Defense Council, Washington, DC; chairman of 
State Water Resources Control Board since April 
1976. Resides in Carmichael. 

Ira J. Chrisman. Born Modesto, California, 1910; 
cattleman, diversified rancher; served 1 GV: years on 
California Water Commission, nine years its 
chairman; former president. Mineral King Savings 
and Loan Association; currently serving as member 
of the California Water Advisory Panel. Resides in 

James A. Cobey. Born Frostburg, Maryland, 1913; 
graduate, Princeton University, Yale Law School 
and Harvard Graduate School of Business 
Administration; former California State Senator; 
chairman emeritus Advisory Council, University of 
California Water Resources Center; authoredwater 
legislation; helped organize the Western States 
Water Council, and one of California's three initial 
delegates; since 1966 associate justice, California 
Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division 
Three, Los Angeles. Resides in Pasadena. 

David E. Hansen. Born Sacramento, California, 
1938; graduate. University of California, Davis, 
Iowa State University; associate professor of 
agricultural economics at the University of 
California, Davis; member. University Task Force on 
Critical Issues for California Agriculture in the 
1 980s, with responsibility for study of water issues; 
member. State Board of Food and Agriculture. 
Resides in Dixon. 

Arthur L. Littleworth. Born Anderson, California, 
1923; graduate, Yale University, Stanford 
University and Yale Law School; attorney practicing 
in the field of water rights. Recipient of many civic 
and educational awards; instructor and panelist in 
seminars and conferences concerning water- 
related matters. Resides in Riverside. 

Mrs. Mary Anne Mark. Born New York City, New 
York, 1942; graduate, Stanford University; civil 
engineer presently associated with the U.S. Corps 
of Engineers; active member of American Society of 
Civil Engineers' Water Policy Committee and Water 
Committee of Commonwealth Club of California; 
Associate Water Resources Coordinator for 
California and Nevada of Sierra Club since 1974. 
Resides in Palo Alto. 

Virgil O'Sullivan. Born Colusa, California, 1918; 
graduate. University of California, Berkeley (Boalt 
Hall); active farmer and lawyer experienced in water 
law, reclamation law, and water district 
organization; State Senator, 1958 through 1966. 
Resides in Williams. 

Ronald B. Robie. Born Oakland, California, 1937; 
graduate. University of California, Berkeley, 
University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law; 
member. State Water Resources Control Board, 
1 969-75; member. Western States Water Council; 
director, California Department of Water Resources 
since March 1975. Resides in Sacramento. 

Mrs. Arliss L. Ungar. Born Los Angeles, California, 
1935; graduate, Stanford University; member. 
League of Women Voters, Department of Water 
Resources' Delta Environmental Advisory 
Committee, University of California's Water 
Resources Center Advisory Council, State Water 
Resources Control Board's Wastewater 
Reclamation Policy Task Force. Resides in 

Thomas M. Zuckerman. Born Oakland, California, 
1942; graduate, Amherst College, University of 
California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall); attorney 
specializing in water law; formerly with the County 
Counsel's office for San Joaquin County. Resides in 

The 1976 drought depleted Mann Municipal Water District's supplies 
to critical levels. Here, Nicosia Reservoir, MMWD's major source of 
water, has diminished to a mere puddle, compared to its normal size. 




Unlike other natural disasters, such as 
hurricanes and floods, the California drought of 
1976 and 1977 did not visit widespread ruin over 
great regions of the State. Some areas were 
relatively untouched, some communities 
underwent varying degrees of inconvenience, and a 
few experienced real hardship. People who lived in 
certain foothill communities of the Sierra Nevada 
and in some coastal counties were in serious 
difficulty. One of the hardest hit of all was Marin 
County, which went through two arduous years, 
struggling with the most critical shortage of water 
the area had known in more than 30 years. 

Before the drought ended in a downrush of rain in 
the winter of 1 977-78, Marin's plight had captured 
State and national attention, and the conservation 
and rationing measures that successfully alleviated 
the crisis in Marin County served as models for 
drought programs elsewhere. 

Eastern Mann County is heavily urban. More 
people live there than in any other section of the 
county. The largest water agency, Mann Municipal 
Water District (MMWD), whose service area 
includes the cities of San Rafael, Sausalito, Mill 
Valley, Corte Madera, San Anselmo, and Fairfax, 
delivers water to about 170,000 customers, more 
than three-fourths the population of the county. 
MMWD depends almost entirely on a series of five 
reservoirs for its supplies — Lagunitas, Kent, Bon 
Tempe, Nicasio, and Alpine Lakes, which are fed 
wholly by runoff from rainfall. North Mann County 
Water District, the region's second largest water 
supplier, serves about 12,900 people living in the 
city of Novato and elsewhere in parts of northern 
and western Mann County. In 1976 and 1977, 
North Marin CWD was drawing 84 percent of its 
supply from the Russian River and the rest from 
Stafford Lake within Mann. 

Marin County's trouble began with unusually dry 
weather during the winter of 1975-76. Slightly 
more than a third the normal amount of ram fell in 
1 976 and just less than half in 1 977. As the months 
passed with little rain, the small creeks that supply 
the coastal communities of Stinson Beach, Bolinas, 
and Inverness in western Marin County stopped 

The temporary pipeline on the Richmond San Ralael Bridge It 
earned the water that saved the da\j for most of eastern Mann 
County during the 1976-77 drought. Courtesy Mann Municipal Water 

flowing, and water wells failed on the north side of 
Tomales Bay. MMWDs lakes started dropping with 
appalling rapidity, until four of them had finally 
dwindled to nearly nothing and one dried up 

Early in 1 977, MMWDs reserves had fallen to an 
alarming level. Its five reservoirs, which together 
store 64 400 000 cubic metres of water, had 
dropped to a total of only 1 5 000 000 cubic metres 
by March. Extraordinary measures were clearly 
needed to avert disaster. What was finally worked 
out was this: State agencies, including the 
Department of Water Resources(DWR), and several 
water agencies outside Marin County cooperated in 
building a large pipeline to carry an emergency 
relief supply to eastern Marin County from the 
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This water was 

part of a much larger contract entitlement to State 
Water Project water that The Metropolitan Water 
District of Southern California had agreed to 
relinquish. The pipeline supply ultimately saved the 
day for a lot of people in Marin County. 

The water was moved through the facilities of 
DWRs State Water Project, the city of Hayward, the 
San Francisco Water District, and East Bay 
Municipal Utility District, and crossed over San 
Francisco Bay in the emergency pipeline laid in a 
traffic lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. 
Construction proceeded at top speed, and water 
was flowing into MMWD's system by early June 
1977. In total, about 5 000 to 6 000 cubic 
dekametres of water were delivered continuously 
until January 1978. 



Mann Municipal Water District went into action 
early to battle the drought. In February 1 976, when 
the scarcity of water was first becoming apparent, 
MMWD issued precautionary instructions, 
prohibiting waste and nonessential uses of water. 
Sprinkler systems were out. Only hand-held hoses 
could be used. Driveways, patios, walkways, and 
other paved surfaces could not be hosed down, and 
three gallons of water was the limit in washing a 
car. After two warnings, violators of these rules 
could have their service disconnected. In March, the 
price of water went up from $0.43 to $0.61 per 1 00 
cubic feet, and further restrictions were 

As conditions worsened, MMWD's restrictions 
became increasingly tight. In July 1 976, a two-step 
residential rate structure was set: $0.61 per 100 
cubic feet, up to certain ceilings, and $0.84 over 
those limits. The following February, the district set 
an average residential limit of nearly 174 litres per 
day per person.* Actual allotments ranged from 
about 121 to 1 85 litres per day,* depending on how 
many people occupied a residence. The greater the 
number of residents, the lower the share per 
person. Apartment buildings with three or more 
units were cut to about 151 litres per person per 
day.* Allotments for businesses, schools, and other 
nonresidential places were somewhat higher. 
MMWD raised the price of water to $1.22, and 
penalties were high for exceeding the limit — 
$1 0.00 per 1 00 cubic feet for those who used up to 
double their limit and $50.00 for those who went 
beyond that. 

MMWD operated its rationing program with 
considerable flexibility. The first two months were a 
trial run to see how people responded to the new 
situation. The first billings that included penalties 
for exceeding allotments were not sent until April, 
two months after the start of rationing. In cases 
where excess usage was found to be due to 
unsuspected water leaks or other malfunctions, 
MMWD subsequently rebated the amounts of the 
penalties to the individual consumers. 

City dwellers altered their outdoor watering 
practices, many of them cutting back or entirely 
ceasing to irrigate their landscaping. Brown lawns 
and shrubs became more and more noticeable in 
residential areas. As a result, some homeowners 
lost hundreds of dollars worth of landscaping, and 







Approximate equivalents 
1 74 litres = 46 gallons 
121 litres = 32 gallons 

185 litres = 49 gallons 
1 51 litres = 40 gallons 

One of the trucks that dispensed emergency supplies of water to 
residents of Marin County. 

some even more than that. Residents finally 
purchased reclaimed and potable water brought in 
by truck from other areas. Toward the end of the 
drought, many households were also irrigating with 
graywater (used bath and laundry water). Indoor 
use of water was also greatly changed, as people 
discarded long-standing habits and adopted new 
ones to live within the limitations imposed by 
rationing. A large number of households attached 
water-saving devices to showers and toilets, and 
the daily use of bathroom fixtures in single-family 
homes dropped amazingly to nearly half the average 
pre-drought rate. 

North Marin County Water District also instituted 
measures aimed at cutting back the use of water. In 
March 1977, the district began a program of 
voluntary rationing, with the intent of bringing 
consumption 30 percent below the 1976 level. 
Customers were restricted to using hand-held 
hoses only for outside watering, and those who 
were newly connected to the North Marin system 
were required to landscape only with drought- 
resistant plants and install indoor water-saving 
devices provided by the district. Customers already 
being served were also offered these attachments 
and encouraged to install them. To assist the dairy 
businesses in its area and persons whose domestic 
wells had run dry. North Marin CWD also set up 
emergency water hauling stations. 

North Marin's customers cooperated by reducing 
use far below the expected level. Between March 
and June, 1 977, water use was down an average of 
45.8 percent from the previous year. 

Western Marin County is largely rural, with a 
sprinkling of small towns. Dairy farmers and 
livestock ranchers, particularly in northwestern 
Marin, rely on springs, small dammed-up ponds, 
creeks, and wells to water their animals and irrigate 
some pasture. Most pasture lands are watered by 
rainfall. Through 1 976 and 1 977, ponds and wells 
on many farms dried up and the pastures withered 
and died, leaving the dairyand ranch operators with 
no choice but to purchase feed trucked in from as far 
away as Idaho and fresh water hauled to their farms 
daily, chiefly from North Marin County Water 
District andthecity of Petal u ma's water department 
in Sonoma County. They saved their livestock, for 
the most part, but the high cost of importing water 
and feed left many farmers heavily in debt and 
forced some out of business, despite substantial 
financial assistance from the federal government. 

Water conservation at the California State Prison 
at San Quentin in eastern Marin County, also 
served by MMWD, paid off with a 45 percent 
reduction in consumption. At that time, total 
population was about 2,000, including both 
inmates and resident employees. The State 
Department of Corrections, which runs the facility, 
maintained a lower inmate population than usual to 
help reduce the need for water, and the prison staff 
and many of the inmates made concerted efforts to 

Laundry went by truck to Vacaville, where no 
water emergency existed. In the confinement areas, 
every other shower head was removed and fewer 
showers were taken. All landscape watering was 
stopped, except for irrigation of salt-tolerant ice 
plants with salty water from San Francisco Bay, and 
water from the Bay also supplanted fresh water for 
hosing off outdoor exercise yards. Water meters 
were installed in all 80 employee residences at San 
Quentin and monitored regularly. 

MMWD made persistent efforts to develop 
additional water from wells in Marin County. It lined 
up 75 potential well sites and spent $185,000 in 
drilling but failed to find any significant deposits of 
ground water. Others were more successful. The 
city of San Rafael drilled new wells at several of its 
parks and was able to obtain enough water to 
irrigate these grounds throughout the drought. This 
water was also available for emergency fire control. 
A large number of residents in Ross, Kentfield, and 
San Rafael put down their own wells and used the 
water they obtained to irrigate landscaping. 

Severe restriction on the use of water is an 
inescapable but effective part of water 
management during a drought. However, MMWD 
found that rationing places heavy burdens on the 
agency administering the program. It had to hire 
additional employees to handle the extra work 
involved in answering requests for information on 
conservation, providing water-saving devices on 
showers and toilets and advising on their 
installation, and demonstrating the correct method 
of reading a water meter. 


At the onset of the drought, MMWD was 
developing its Las Gallinas project, a waste water 
reclamation facility located next to a sewage 
treatment plant. It is designed to provide reclaimed 
water for outdoor landscaping at parks, large office 
complexes, cemeteries, golf courses, condominium 
developments and apartment complexes, greenbelt 
areas, and highway median strips. No single-family 
dwellings will be served. The only residential 
buildings to receive this water will be those at which 
landscape irrigation is not controlled bythebuilding 

If construction begins in June 1979, as MMWD 
expects, the project should be completed by the end 
of the summer. Peak capacity will be about 40 000 
cubic metres per second. The water will cost 95 
percent of the cost of fresh water. It will be 
distributed in a separate but similar transmission 
system to which each customer can make a 
permanent connection, just as is done now in 
distributing fresh, potable water 

Developments built after the project is in 
operation can tap into the system, but MMWD does 
not expect to be serving existing buildings because 
the cost of individual connection would be 
prohibitive. Dual piping has already been laid for 
one large development of offices and 
condominiums in Marin County now under 
construction. The district hopes to develop 2 500 
cubic dekametres of reclaimed waste water through 
this and other projects within its service area by the 
end of this century. 

Unfortunately, Las Gallinas was not on line when 
the drought hit, so MMWD found itself in the 
business of selling treated waste water somewhat 
earlier than it expected to. To help those who 
wanted to save their landscaping, the district 
obtained permission from the San Francisco 
Regional Water Quality Control Board andtheState 
Department of Health to take reclaimed water from 
waste water treatment plants in Mill Valley, San 

Rafael, Las Molinas, and Ross Valley, and then 
transported It by truck throughout the county. The 
water was sold to private trucking firms, which in 
turn sold it to property owners. MMWD kept close, 
careful control of distribution of this water by 
training the truck operators in safe delivery 
methods and by issuing them special licenses and 
discharge permits that required delivery only to 
specific locations for approved uses. No chances 
were taken that this water would be mistaken for 
fresh water and be consumed by people or animals. 
Permission to deliver this water was revoked when 
rationing ended. 


As their supplies became increasmgly scarce, coastal communities in 
Mann County asked visitors to cooperate by using less water. 

Marin Municipal Water District's customers 
responded extremely well to the water rationing 
limits It set. In 1 977, users were asked to take a cut 
of 57 percent of their normal level of use. Instead 
they dropped an average of 63 percent. Part of the 
success of rationing was due to the district's ability 
to communicate forcefully the true gravity of the 
situation. In January 1 977, Dietrich Stroeh, general 
manager of MMWD, drew a very clear picture of the 
districts status. He warned the community that, 
unless water was strictly rationed and emergency 
supplies brought from sources outside the county, 
MMWDs reservoirs would be empty by the end of 
the year. Reports by the broadcast media and 
newspapers telling the real facts of the situation 
also assisted in convincing Mann County water 
users of the urgent need to conserve. Another 
reason for the strong cooperation was the element 
of personal involvement in a formidable community 
problem. Saving water was something to which 
each person could contribute individually and 

Everything did not always go smoothly, of course. 
Customers of MMWD were first upset and then 
angered by increasing water rates and greater 
restrictions on use. Hard-pressed residents and 
business people often found it difficult to 
understand why they should pay more and more for 
less and less water. Many charged the district with 
failing to anticipate the drought, to which MMWD 
replied that, while its system was designed to 
handle dry periods, it was not equipped to meet 
such extreme dryness. At one community meeting, 
the management of MMWD had to explain to 
several hundred Irate customers that droughts, like 
earthquakes, simply could not be predicted because 
the technology of long-range weather forecasting 
has not yet progressed sufficiently. 


Toward the end of 1976, MMWD was 
investigating every possible way of getting 
emergency water to Marin County, including 
hauling it in from other areas by tank trucks and 
railroad tank cars, bringing it down the coast from 
Oregon on ocean-going barges, and using ballast 
water from large ships, desalted water from U.S. 
Navy vessels, and portable desalting devices. 

As it turned out, none of these remedies was used 
because the proposal to pipe a relief supply from the 
Delta and across San Francisco Bay was already in 
the works by early 1977, and MMWD knew 
additional supplies would be arriving in time. 

Marin Municipal Water District was in the 
forefront of water agencies in California that 
requested emergency drought assistance from the 
federal government. In August 1977, the district 
received a loan of $5,550,000 from the Economic 
Development Administration of the U.S. 
Department of Commerce to develop and conserve 
water supplies and to help in alleviating drought 
effects. The loan is payable over a 40-year period at 
a five percent rate of interest. An additional 
$1,387,000 was provided in a grant. As of 
September 1978, the district had spent a total of 
$5,828,938 for costs related to the emergency 
pipeline and other drought-related expenses. These 
funds were made available to drought areas to make 
water system improvements essential to protect 
public health and safety. 


The drought dilemma in Marin County was the 
most dramatic example of extreme water-short 
conditions in the entire State during a period of 
severe shortages elsewhere in California. Marin's 


almost total reliance on rainfall to stock its 
reservoirs lay at the heart of its problems. 
Unfortunately, the rains that failed at that time can 
fail again because alternating years of varying 
degrees of dryness and wetness are typical of 

in the belief that learning what happened in 
Marin County could benefit others with similar 
difficulties, the Department of Water Resources set 
about surveying conditions there in the summer of 
1976. DWR focused primarily on the Mann 
Municipal Water District, since most of the county's 
population lives in the area it serves and the district 
could thus provide the most representative 
sampling of urban water users. Special 
questionnaires were prepared to cover residential, 
business and commercial, municipal, and 
institutional water users, as well as dairy and 
livestock operations elsewhere in the county. 

DWR had several objectives: 

• To measure the effect of conservation on 
landscaping and the performance of indoor 
water-saving devices. 

• To determine the effectiveness of conservation 
techniques adopted by users. 

• To find out which users found other sources of 

• To describe MMWDs rationing and 
conservation measures, their effectiveness, 
and when they began, were altered, and were 

• To document MMWD's experiences and 
techniques for handling the drought. 

• To determine the economic and social costs and 
losses sustained by the people of Mann County 
because of the drought. 

("The Impact of Severe Drought in Marin County, 
California", Bulletin 206, a comprehensive report 
on the results of the survey and the methods used to 
obtain the data, is scheduled for publication early in 

Among the more significant findings uncovered 
by the investigation are these: 

In a time of severe water shortage, people begin 
to save water when they accept the reality of the 
situation. Rationing is very effective in reducing 
consumption. The effect of pricing schemes is still a 
matter for conjecture. 

In an emergency, households and businesses can 
operate on less than half the water they had 
previously been using, with only minimal loss of 
landscaping or business losses. 

Level of family income is not a factor in saving 
water during a drought. Under normal conditions, 
more affluent families tend to use more water than 
the less affluent, but under strict rationing, all 
families are able to cut back to about the same low 
rate of use. 

As the drought worsened, acceptance of 
reclaimed waste water for landscaping increased. 
In Mann County, 94 percent of those questioned 
said they would continue to use treated water when 
the emergency was over. 

Privately owned businesses, which were more 
severely affected by the drought than were schools, 
government agencies, and community 
organizations, complained that the level of rationing 
set in 1 977 was too low. In 1 976, private business 
did not reduce the use of water, and in 1 977, they 
did cut back but not to the level of public agencies. 


The drought has been over in Mann County for a 
year now. Mann Municipal Water District declared 
an end to rationing in February 1978 and told its 
customers they could useallthe water they wanted, 
cautioning them only not to be wasteful The price of 
water was dropped from $1.87 to $0 87 per 100 
cubic feet. In July the rate was cut another four 
cents. As late as August, when demand is usually 
highest, water was plentiful. MMWD's reservoirs 
still were at 83 percent of capacity. 

The five-year moratorium on water connections 
and water mains was lifted in June. A total of 1 200 
cubic dekametres of water was allotted for new 
service, allowing 3,000 additional connections, and 
distribution lines could be extended to serve them. 

The emergency pipeline across the Bay is still in 
place and will remain there by agreement until April 
1 979. Even though water supplies were excel lent in 
1978, another dry year can always recur. 

Although their tribulations are past, many Mann 
residents have apparently not forgotten the 
experiences of the drought. As recently as late 
summer last year, brown lawns were still visible in 
residential areas. About half the homes and 
businesses have replanted, in many cases replacing 
the lawns and shrubs that did not survive with 
ornamental rock cover and drought-tolerant species 
of plants. 

As for indoor use, residents may well be 
continuing to exercise much of the restraint they 
had used in 1 976 and 1 977. Water use did not take 
a sudden upward climb when MMWD removed its 
restrictions, as might have been expected The 







district's records show that, while overall 
consumption exceeded both 1 976 and 1 977, people 
were still not using as much water as they did m 
normal years. The level rose quite slowly, in fact, 
beginning in May, and in August, MMWD 
customers were still taking only 65 percent of the 
water they used before the drought. 

Altered water use habits are part of the answer. 
People who have become accustomed to 
conserving water out of absolute necessity are 
finding it difficult to resume their former levels of 
use. Another factor is the use of water that was 
"banked" with MMWD by customers who found 
they were able to get by on less than they were 
entitled to. (Some remarkable consumers cut back 
to only 34 litres* a day per person.) Individuals who 
were credited with the unused daily balances they 
conserved began withdrawing their "drought 
credits" in mid-1978. 

These two factors are having a serious effect on 
MMWD, which is now in the trying position of fixing 
rates that will return the same level of revenue as 

Approximate equivalent 9 gallons 

before the drought, while it isselling less water. It is 
a fact of life in water economics that it costs nearly 
as much to deliver 50 litres of water as to deliver 
150 litres. The overall lessened consumption of 
water in Marin means less revenue for the district, 
which has to meet increasing operations costs and 
long-term fixed capital costs, as well as plan for 
expansion to develop additional sources of water. 

One of the questions now puzzling Marin 
Municipal Water District is what direction the level 
of use will take. There is no precedent to tell 
whether demand will hold at its present rate or will 
rise gradually to previous years. What eventually 
happens will have a long-range effect on the future 
of water development in eastern Marin County. If 
demand remains down, distribution systems could 
be designed quite differently. Mains and storage 
tanks could be smaller, and less electrical energy 
would be needed to pump water through 
transmission lines. 

MMWD believes now that water demand is most 
likely to continue at a level somewhat below that of 
1 975 and before, although not necessarily at the 65 


percent level. Water conservation devices 
remaining in many homes, and building code 
revisions that will require water-saving plumbing 
will most probably have some effect. The 
heightened consciousness of Marin residents 
toward water conservation may well linger, perhaps 
for a long time, further reducing demand. 

Conservation is only one part of the development 
of a more efficient water supply situation for Marin 
County, however. Two other elements have equal 
importance: waste water reclamation and 
development of new sources of water. All three 
must be considered in any plan of water 
management today. Marin Municipal Water District 
is also taking into account the likelihood of future 
droughts, a process called risk management. The 
district has recalculated the supply in all its 
reservoirs, adding the factor of recurring water 
shortages. This reduces net safe yield — the amount 
of water that can safely betaken during a dry period. 
Therefore, MMWD is looking for new sources of 
water to supply an additional 7 400 cubic 

The emphasis will be on regional development 
that goes beyond the boundaries of Marin County, 
possibly combining a small in-county source with a 
larger supply elsewhere. The district will be working 
closely with the Marin County planning department 
and the cities in its service area. 

Looking back on 1976 and 1977, the drought in 
Marin County demonstrated one simple truth: in a 
time of crisis, when water supplies are severely 
depleted, people will make the adjustments, both 
large and small, that are necessary to live with the 
situation. When it came to making do with less, the 
residents of Marin County can be rated high. 

For those whose business it is to deliver water, 
the stresses of the drought carried another 
message. Water supply agencies may well have to 
reconsider all the factors that go into meeting their 
responsibilities to their consumers. If consumers 
use less water, as Marin residents are now doing, 
quite possibly they really need less. This fact alone 
could have far-reaching effects on water 
development in Marin County and the counties that 
adjoin it. 

Information lor this article was contributed by 

Frank H Bollman 

Consultant, Natural Resources Economics 

Division of Planning 



DWR Publications 

"Special Report on Dry Year Impacts in 

California." February 1, 1976. Free. 

"The California Drought— 1976." May 1976 


"The California Drought— 1977; An Update." 

February 15, 1977. Free. 

"The Continuing California Drought." August 

1977. Free. 

"The 1976-1977 California Drought; A 

Review." May 1978. Free. 

"The Impact of Severe Drought in Marin County, 

California." Bulletin 206. In preparation. 

Information on the materials listed here is given on the 
inside back cover. 


Farming in Water 


The age-old practice of working the land to grow 
food IS familiar to nearly everyone. Even those who 
may have never visited a farm are aware that most 
of our edibles come from the soil. But another 
practice — harvesting crops raised entirely in 
water — might sound like some scientist's dream for 
the future, at least until one recalls one real-life 
example — the trout that are reared in hatcheries 
and sold at retail markets or released for sport 

Using water as the environment for crops is called 
aquaculture, an art that, like farming on land, is 
actually as old as recorded history. Early Egyptians 
and Chinese raised fish as food, andthe inhabitants 
of ancient Greece and Rome enriched their menus 
by cultivating oysters. Today in mainland China, 
large harvests of fish are taken from pond systems, 
and in Japan, the culture of seaweed is an 
important aquacultural activity. 

Aquaculture is the farming of water-associated 
plants and animals. The crops obtained are fish, 
shellfish, grasses, or algae. Overall, aquatic farming 
operations closely parallel some of those performed 
in farming on land. In agriculture, the soil is 
fertilized, weeds are taken out, and when the crop is 
mature, it is harvested In aquaculture, fertilizers 
are often added to the water, undesirable growths 
of water plants are removed, and the mature crop is 
harvested from the pond. 

Aquaculture systems have typically used either 
fresh water or sea water. Another use that has 
become popular in the past few years involves 
growing aquatic organisms in some form of waste 
water. (This is not really a third "type" of water 
because waste water is either fresh or salt water 
plus contaminants.) The idea in using waste water 
is to work toward two goals at the same time: to 
treat the water so that its quality is improved and to 
produce some form of protein for human and animal 
consumption. (In the languageof water engineering 
and management, the term "waste water" refersto 
water that, once having been put to use in some 
human activity, cannot ordinarily be reused without 
having been treated. Residential waste water is an 
example that probably comes most readily to mind, 
but it is only one type. Other notable sources of 
waste water are the high water-use industries, 
such as food processing plants, steel mills, and 
lumber operations.) 

The Department of Water Resources entered the 
world of aquaculture by a somewhat circuitous path 
that follows from its role as a water supply agency. 
As the builder and operator of the State Water 
Project, DWR maintains the California Aqueduct, 
which includes the delivery of irrigation water to 
San Joaquin valley farmers. 

The valley is a vast farmland occupied by great 
acreages devoted to the production of crops Much 
of this land lies a few feet above an impenetrable 
layer of clay that blocks the downward movement of 
irrigation water, much of which would otherwise 
filter deep into the soil and join the ground water 
basin. Normally of excellent quality, irrigation water 
does contain small amounts of dissolved salts. As 
the pure water evaporates from the surface of a 
field, the salt residues accumulate in the upper 
layers of the soil in amounts that can become more 
and more harmful to plants. If the irrigation water is 
able to percolate readily into the ground — as, for 
instance, where the soil is sandy — the problem can 
be alleviated by adding more water to flush the salts 
from the plant roots. But where the underlying clay 
zone bars the deep downward movement of water, 
the salts continue to accumulate and, unless 
something is done to remedy the situation, the now- 
salty ground water above the clay layer builds up 
toward the surface, eventually reaching the roots of 
plants. Plant growth then declines, crop productivity 
suffers, and in severe cases, the soil becomes 

The nub of the problem — and the reason the 
Department of Water Resources has long been 
concerned about irrigation problems in the San 
Joaquin Valley — is the waste water that is the 
consequence of this faulty natural drainage. Salt 
build-up in the valley is a problem of long standing, 
despite much remedial work that has been done. 
The importance of sound management of irrigation 
is no small matter. About 400 000 hectares of 
farmland, mostly on the west side, either are now or 
will be affected. 

At the site of individual farming operations, the 
drainage problem can be easily (but not cheaply) 
resolved by installing networks of perforated below- 
ground tile drains into which the subsurface 
irrigation water seeps. (These drains, once made 
with tile pipes, are now built using plastic.) The 


drains are laid in trenches about IVi metres below 
the surface of a field and covered with a layer of 
gravel. The rest of the trench is filled with earth. The 
water enters the tile line and flows to a subsurface 
collecting sump, from which it is usually pumped for 
disposal elsewhere. The water from these tile 
systems often contains such a high percentage of 
constituents injurious to plants that its potential for 
direct reuse for irrigation is greatly limited. In 
addition to its high salt content, it sometimes 
contains high concentrations of boron, a 
constituent that impedes plant growth. Plants do 
vary in their sensitivity to boron, but high 
concentrations are toxic to all commonly grown 

Since installing tile drains is a costly business, 
less than lOpercentof the potential trouble areas in 
the valley are tile drained. Farmers in the rest of 
these areas follow the next best course. They plant 
crops that can tolerate high levels of salts — barley, 
for instance, which could grow in sea water, if need 
be. Raising salt-tolerant crops cannot continue 
indefinitely, however. In most instances, farmers 
will eventually have to build tile drain systems or 
abandon the land. 

Su[>buiku e drainage that percolates )rom the root zones of crops, 
such as this jield of cotton, supplies the test facility's ponds. 

In addition to tile drain systems, another remedy 
in use today is blending the drain water with 
supplies of better quality irrigation water. However, 
this is only a temporary solution. It does nothing to 
prevent the long-term accumulation of salts, a 
condition with potentially disastrous consequences 
for agriculture in the valley. 

The traditional solution to the drainage dilemma 
is to move the salt-laden water from the area in 
which it is causing trouble. There arethree possible 
ways of handling the situation: desalting, 
evaporation, and export. Of these, only through 
desalting has the drainage water been regarded as 

a resource worth reclaiming. Evaporation and 
discharge from the valley are essentially means of 
getting rid of water that was long considered to be 
solely a waste product. 

At present, small amounts of waste water that 
contains relatively little salt and other undesirable 
elements can be recovered at the farm to be used 
again for irrigation, but the quality of most 
agricultural drainage is so very poor that it must be 
taken away from the field. Some is disposed of in 
sloughs that flow into the San Joaquin River, and 
some goes farther south to evaporation ponds in the 
Tulare basin. Although the proposal has aroused 
opposition in some quarters, most economic 
analyses indicate that the least costly way of 
transporting agricultural waste water from the 
valley is to put it in a gravity-flow canal emptying 
into Suisun Bay between Antioch and Martinez. 

In 1976, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the 
California Water Resources Control Board, and the 
Department of Water Resources formed the 
Interagency Drainage Program to consider the 
valley's drainage problems. In light of changing 
views on the concepts of waste water reclamation 
and reuse, the three agencies decided to take a new 
approach to the disposal of agricultural waste water 
and to regard it as a resource, rather than as an 
undesirable by-product. One thought was to find 
something of value that would grow in this salty 
water. With this in mind, the Board contracted with 
DWR to look into the potential of field drainage as an 
aquacultural medium. The primary goal of the study 
was to examine possibilities for producing useful 
organic products, both animal (chiefly fish) and 

The site for this work was the waste water 
treatment test facility already in operation near 
Firebaugh, 72 kilometres west of Fresno, where 
between 1967 and 1970, the Bureau, the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency, and DWR had 
studied ways of removing nutrients from 
subsurface farm drainage. In addition to its high salt 
content and other constituents harmful to plants, 
such as boron, agricultural waste water contams 
nitrate, a nutrient that tends to encourage 
obnoxious growths of plants where it is discharged. 

DWRs part of the earlier project was to find 
methods by which algae, tiny single-celled plants 
that float about in lakes and oceans, could be used 
to remove the nitrate from water. During the three- 
year program, the algae were cultivated in outdoor 
ponds filled with farm drainage water from 
surrounding farmlands. They reproduced m masses 
of countless microscopic cells, taking the nitrate 


from the water in through their membranes. 
Periodic harvesting and drying of the algae 
effectively removed the nitrate from the water. The 
work performed under this program was an 
example of aquaculture in that the algae were 
regarded as a potentially useful by-product. 

When the algae studies ended in 1970, DWR's 
role was limited to advising the Bureau on the 
conduct of additional water treatment studies atthe 
Firebaugh research facility This work involved 
plants similar to tules and cattails that grow in a 
more-or-less continuously wet environment. 


With the emergence of the aquaculture project in 
1978, researchers began with studies of four 
species of fish: the channel catfish (as a food 
resource), the golden shiner (as a bait fish and an 
experimental animal), the mosquitofish(as a means 
of insect control) and the Sacramento blackf ish (an 
algae eater). These were chosen because all four 
are hardy, grow well in relatively warm, saline 
water, and are presently or potentially useful, from 
an economic standpoint. They are being cultivated 
in several types of farm drainage water — some from 
near the research station and some from other parts 
of the valley. The levels of salinity vary, depending 
on the area from which the water has come. 

One very important question was whether small 
amounts of potentially toxic substances in the water 
were harmful to the fish and to the people who 
would ultimately consume them. To find the 
answer, biochemists from the Department of 
Toxicology of the University of California at Davis 
are examining the fish, the water they live in, and 
any plants growing there for concentrations of 

possible toxicants. The objective is to determine 
how the toxic content of the tissues of fish such as 
catfish reared in agricultural drainage water 
compares to that of similar fish reared in water from 
more conventional sources. 

To study fish growth, two approaches are being 
taken — intensive culture and polyculture. The most 
common example of the intensive culture of fish in 
California is probably the various salmon and trout 
hatcheries operated by the State. In these 
operations, the fish are held in crowded conditions 
and fed a balanced diet of ready-made food. 
Intensive culture operation requires that large 
volumes of water be passed through the ponds to 
oxygenate the water and prevent the accumulation 
of toxic fish wastes and uneaten food particles 

/ ; 


Outdoor ponds holding the experimental fish. Each pond is slightly 
more than 7 metres in diameter and 1 metre deep 

The second plan, called polyculture, is based on 
the highly efficient feeding arrangement that exists 
among plants and animals in nature. In a natural 
setting, the energy from sunlight falling on a pond or 
lake is captured by the algae and other water plants 
and becomes plant tissue. The algae and other 
plants are either eaten by small fish and other small 
animals or fall to the bottom and decompose. The 
small fish and the dead vegetative matter are 
consumed by larger fish that are then eaten by even 
larger ones. Ecologists often call this feeding 
scheme a food web. 

The secret to a successful polyculture system is 
finding a group of species of fish or other aquatic 
animals whose feeding preferences fit well 
together in a particular food web. As long as the 
various species placed together are not competing 
for the same types of food, the system works well. 
The mainland Chinese have based their operations 
for producing crops of carp for human consumption 
on polyculture and, according to incomplete reports, 
in 1965 reared harvests totalling anywhere from 


1 '/2 to 3 million metric tonsof fish. Atypical Chinese 
pond contained grass carp, which feed on emergent 
vegetation (water plants whose upper portions 
emerge from the water); bighead carp, which feed 
on zooplankton (microscopic animals that swim 
about in water); silver carp, which feed on algae; 
mud carp and common carp, which feed on small 
bottom-dwelling aquatic animals; and black carp, 
which feed on snails and clams. 

Golden Shiner 
The Chinese system worked because each of 
these six species restricts Itself to a particular food 
group and does not take the food of the others. 

We are not able to use the same species here 
because the California Department of Fish and 
Game severely limits the importation of exotic 
species. Their regulations are designed to protect 
our native fish. Experience has shown that when 
fish from other parts of the world are introduced in 
California, the populations of native species are 
often seriously reduced. 

The only course of action open to us, therefore. Is 
to discover which native fish will live together 
peaceably, dividing their food supplies In the same 
manner as the Chinese carp. One fish that looks 
promising is the Sacramento blackfish, a California 
species that flourishes in the San Luis Reservoir in 
Merced County and in Clear Lake in Lake County. 
Blackfish are caught commercially at both 
locations, and sold live in Los Angeles and the San 
Francisco Bay Area. This fish appears to feed 
extensively on algae. In a polyculture operation, the 
blackfish would occupy a position somewhat like 
that of cattle in an agricultural operation. 

The next item needed Is some water-dwelling 
animal that livesonzooplankton, just as the bighead 
carp does. One candidate is the golden shiner, one 
of the fish being used in the Firebaugh study. 
Another is the mosquitofish, whose diet consists of 
zooplankton and insect larvae, including the larvae 
of mosquitoes. Control of mosquitoes is not as 
simple as it once was. There are two reasons for 
this. Mosquito populations are developing 
resistance to commonly used organic insecticides, 
and, because of environmental concerns, the 

business of bringing new pesticides on the market 
IS growing more difficult and more expensive. 
Mosquitofish produced in an aquacultural program 
could be a real help with this problem. They could be 
harvested and sold to mosquito abatement districts 
for seasonal planting in the rice fields and other 
open water in which they breed 

ill I'll iB3L-J, _i«f^«?^ 

Partiat view of a pond in which mosquitofish are being reared. 

Catfish, especially bullheads, may also fit nicely 
into a polyculture plan. They seek out the 
decomposing remains of plants and animals and 
would help keep the pond water clean. Common 
carp, a species Introduced in this country some 100 
years ago and now found throughout California, 
would also work out well, but the market for them is 
limited at present. Moreover, their habit of 
muddying the water by rooting about on the pond 
bottom detracts from their usefulness. 

The Asiatic clam is another interesting prospect. 
Clams tend to clean the water that surrounds them 
by the manner in which they feed. As they pump 
water through their systems, they filter out bits of 
plant and animal matter. These shellfish could also 
prove to be an economic bonus for farming. Asiatic 
clams are a common dietary item in the Far East and 
are sold in food stores in the United States (under a 
different name). 

Although the plant and animal elements we need 
for polyculture are at hand, the task of putting the 
system In operation will Involve substantial effort. 
Since the salts in agricultural drain water are 
present in proportions unlike those found in most 
natural water bodies, we first have to determine 
whether the life forms we select can live, grow, and 
reproduce successfully in this particular blend of 

We are also experimenting to find out whether 
the water we are using will need supplemental 
fertilizers to increase the growth of plants in the 
ponds. Agricultural drainage is rich in nitrogen, but 


it is relatively low in phosphorus and iron, essential 
elements for plant growth. Our goal is to balance 
the amount of vegetation grown in the ponds with 
the amount consumed by the pond dwellers. Plant 
matter that goes uneaten tends to break down and 
add wastes to the water. The point is to achieve a 
delicate ecological balance m which only a very little 
of the unused plant material leaves the pond 

Another option for study is the potential for mass 
production of grasses, with particular attention 
given to reed canarygrass. This plant will be a prime 
test species because it is apparently unaffected by 
standing in water for long periods, it tolerates highly 
saline water, and it produces a valuable hay crop. In 
examining grasses, the researchers will also watch 
for changes in the various dissolved constituents, 
especially nitrogen, boron, and silicon, as the water 
flows through the ponds. Even though water 
treatment methods are not the first consideration in 
this project, we cannot completely ignore them. 
Changing environmental standards governing the 
discharge of waste water could mean that some 
form of treatment such as nitrogen removal will be 
required in the future. 

Reeds and other aquatic plants growing in one of the ponds cou/d 
benefit an aquacultural project by improving the quality of the pond 
water. They could also provide a potentially harvestable crop that 
might be used for livestock feed 

The ultimate disposal of the drainage water 
leaving an aquacultural system in the San Joaquin 
Valley has yet to be settled. The Bureau of 
Reclamation, the Water Resources Control Board, 
and DWR, acting as members of the Interagency 
Drainage Program, presently favor the construction 
of a gravity-flow drainage canal leading to the Delta 
or Suisun Bay. Included in their plan is a series of 
marshes fed by the output of the aquacultural 
ponds. These will provide much-needed additional 
habitat for waterfowl in California. There is another 

side to the picture, however. Although sending this 
twice-used water to the Delta area has been 
described as economically sound, a current 
evaluation of the environmental effect of such an 
action on the receiving water suggests that the 
drainage water's high salt content could be 
detrimental, principally in spring when striped bass 
are spawning near Antioch. 

The whole question of disposal could be 
compounded by the high rate of evaporation in the 
San Joaquin Valley, where summer temperatures 
are typically quite hot. In an average year, 
evaporation will cause the level of an undisturbed 
body of water to drop 1 Vi to nearly 2 metres. Such a 
loss of water in an aquacultural operation of the 
type being studied at the Firebaugh facility will 
concentrate the salts in the drainage water, 
possibly intensifying salinity problems where the 
water is finally discharged. 

Another factor is the effect the particles of 
organic materials (fish wastes, for instance) 
produced by an aquacultural system may have on 
the receiving water. These substances reduce the 
amount of oxygen dissolved in the water. An 
adequate supply of dissolved oxygen is necessary 
for the growth of aquatic organisms. Tests in this 
study will establish how best to remove the wastes 
before the water leaves the ponds. 

Although results of the study are not yet in, we 
expect they will show that the agricultural drainage 
of San Joaquin Valley can be put to use to support a 
good growth of aquatic plants and animals that are 
both safe and nutritious. For a region like the valley, 
where long, rainless summers are the rule and crop 
irrigation is a must, this will be a real achievement. 
Ever since salt build-up in the soil was first 
recognized as a serious threat to the farmer's 

dscalic Clam 


prosperity several decades ago, large quantities of 
used irrigation water considered no longer usable 
for any purpose have had to be disposed of 

Now it appears we have another route open to 
us— to "farm" this water and take from it a rich 
harvest for our tables. Of course, marketability of 
much of this harvest is a question mark right now. 
Americans are not by custom big consumers of fish 
and shellfish, even though nutrition experts have 
been telling us for some time that these foods are 
excellent sources of protein. Looking ahead a few 
years, however, we think demand may rise 
sufficiently to make commercial aquaculture 
ventures financially attractive. When that occurs, 
agricultural drainage may well providean important 
part of the water supply for these enterprises, thus 
proving that a one-time waste product can be 
turned into something truly beneficial. 

DWR Publications 

"Rennoval of Nitrate by an Algal System." 

Bulletin 174-10. November 1971. $1.25. 

"Removal of Nitrate from Agricultural Tile 
Drainage by a Symbiotic Process." Bulletin 
174-18. May 1976. Free. 

Information on the materials listed here is given on the 
inside back cover. 

This article was prepared in the Division of Planning, Sacramento, 


Randall L. Brown 

Senior Water Quality Biologist 


Design for Conservation 


The idea that there was any real purpose in saving 
electricity at the very plants that generated it would 
have struck a lot of knowledgeable people as faintly 
ridiculous just a decade ago. After all, wasn't power 
cheap at the source? The country's great power- 
producing plants at Grand Coulee Dam in the State 
of Washington and Niagara Falls in New York blazed 
with lights every night, as much for the decorative 
effect as for the illumination. 

But the world has taken new directions in the last 
ten years, and events have forced us to alter our 
thinking on the allocation of power. As a nation, we 
have come up against some hard facts; fossil fuels 
are depletable resources and we are wise to use 
electric power as efficiently as possible in every 
situation. This applies not only to the use of power 
generated by petroleum, natural gas, and coal, but 
to hydroelectric power as well. Hydroelectric plants 
supply significant amounts of energy to California, 
particularly when plenty of water is available. 

In view of these changes, the Department of 
Water Resources this past year embarked on a 
statewide program to modify the amounts of 
electricity it consumes at its facilities — offices, 
maintenance and repair shops, and control centers. 
This affects installations in locations such as Red 
Bluff, Oroville, Sacramento, Byron, Los Banos, 
Fresno, and Castaic. Conservation measures are 
being put into effect wherever possible, ranging 
from adjusting thermostats and reducing lighting 
levels to improving insulation and shading for 
buildings, installing insulating double-pane glass, 
and adding solar collectors to supplement present 
space conditioning (heating and cooling) systems. 
More sophisticated controls are being planned for 
heating, ventilating, and air conditioning 
equipment, and computers are being considered to 
monitor and control conditioning at the larger, more 
complex facilities. The overall goal of the 
conservation program is to cut energy use by at 
least 25 percent. 

Structure typical of many Department of Water Resources' buildings 
that are bein.q modified for passive energy conservation. 


DWRs operation and maintenance center at 
Beckwourth in Plumas County, which operates the 
Upper Feather River section of the State Water 
Project, IS scheduled for a solar collector system to 
heat the building interiors and to furnish domestic 
hot water. This will reduce the center s dependence 
on liquid petroleum gas. The Beckwourth facility 
was selected for this installation because it is 
situated where winters are markedly colder than at 
other Project sites and thus has a greater need for 
space heating. 

The job of modifying structures that were built 
when energy was considered cheap is often 
structurally difficult. Roofs must be strengthened to 
carry the extra load Imposed on them by solar 
collectors. This Is especially true for flat roofs, 
which would tend to become somewhat concave 
and trap rain, putting a further strain on the 
building. Easier access to roof tops and safety 
railing for maintenance personnel are other 
necessities. Sometimes finding a good site for a 
solar collector is a problem because a neighboring 
building may cast a shadow over the most favorable 
position, which would hamper the collector's 
effectiveness. A solar collector can be set up near a 
building, rather than on it, but to do so reduces Its 


Although altering andadding to existing buildings 
is a good way to conserve, the best way to make the 
most of the least energy is to begin, as the saying 
goes, at the beginning, and make energy 
conservation a fundamental part of a new building. 
Ideally, this should happen while a project is still a 
vision in the designer's mind. 

Pyramid Powerplant, a hydroelectric facility that 
is now being built on the West Branch of the State 
Water Project's California Aqueduct, Is an excellent 
example. Designed for maximum energy savings, 
the plant will Incorporate as many conservation 
features as present technology has proven 

Situated in the northwestern corner of Los 
Angeles County about 16 kilometres south of 
Gorman, the plant will generate about 450 million 
kllowatthours a year. It will take water from the 
California Aqueduct through Quail Canal and 
discharge It into Pyramid Lake. Its outflow will be 
directed toward Los Angeles. Initially, the plant will 
have two generating units capable of a peak output 
of 75 000 kilowatts Two more units can be added 
later to double the facility's total power production. 

Pyramid Powerplant has been designed to 
operate as a power recovery plant. The electrical 
energy it will produce will offset part of the 
enormous amount of power used to pump the 
Project's water over the Tehachapl Mountains to 
southern California. 

Work at the site has already begun. The contract 
to excavate and erect the building was awarded in 
October 1978. 

In designing Pyramid Powerplant, DWR 
architects and engineers have been guided by the 
basic premise that energy conservation begins with 
proper physical design of a structure, a principle 
more popularly known as "passive conservation". 
To achieve savings in this way, a designer must put 
to use such architectural considerations as 
orienting a building to take advantage of its relation 
to the sun at all hours of the day year-around and 
designing windows with overhangs and insulated 
reflective glass that allow natural illumination but 
block the sun's direct rays. Complete insulation of 
the outer shell of a building and weatherstrippmg 
doors to prevent the escape of conditioned air are 
also essential elements of passive conservation. 

When the Pyramid Plant goes into operation in 
late 1982, It will exemplify every one of these 
methods — and more. A plant of this type normally 
draws on its own electrical output to heat, cool, 
ventilate, and illuminate its facilities and to supply 
its own domestic hot water. At Pyramid, these 


Architect's concept of Pvramid Poiuerplant. 

needs will be met from alternate sources at the site, 
reducmg this power load on the output of the plant 
to allow transmission of more power to its 

Three sources — direct solar radiation, the waste 
heat emitted by the generators, and the thermal 
storage capacity of the water in the reservoir — will 
all be used to the extent possible to heat and cool the 
interior of the plant. Heat pumps using the thermal 
storage of the reservoir will be put into operation 
when the direct use of the other two methods 
cannot maintain the required temperatures. 

In addition to these processes, the plant will have 
another big plus going for it. The greater part will be 
built below ground, with some exterior walls in 
contact with the water in Pyramid Lake, making the 
structure a well-insulated thermal mass 

Because of the complexity of the air conditioning 
system and the countless variables involved in its 
functioning, the plant will include a fully integrated, 
computer-controlled energy management system. 
The computer will receive messages from sensors 
and make the decisions needed to achieve and 
maintain the desired levels of heating and cooling. 

Solar energy will be received by banks of 
collectors mounted on the powerhouse roof, facing 
south and sloping about 30 degrees from horizontal. 
A mixture of ethylene glycol and water flowing 
through the collectors will absorb heat from the 
sun. The heated solution will be pumped to a water- 
to-water heat exchanger, where the heat will be 
transferred to pure water and either held in large 
insulated storage tanks, or directly pumped to the 
heating coils of ventilation equipment (in the 
heating mode) or to the absorption chillers (in the 
cooling mode). 

When the temperature in the water storage tanks 
drops below the required level, the heat pump will 
take over At night, the collector's circuit will be shut 
down, and the stored hot water (and the heat pump, 
if needed) will come into operation to maintain 
desired room temperatures. The air conditioning 
equipment will have an economizing damper 
system that will allow up to 100 percent use of 
outside air, if outdoor temperatures are suitable for 
space conditioning. 

In the control room wing of the plant, which will 
be occupied by DWR personnel 24 hours a day, 
provision for control of space conditioning is an 


important part of the total design from the 
standpoint of human comfort because more people 
will be working here than in any other section. Also, 
power generation electronic control equipment 
operates more reliably at the human comfort 
temperature range. A solar-powered space heating 
and cooling system is expected to meet 75 percent 
of the area's needs. Heated water for personnel use 
will also be supplied primarily by the solar 
collectors. Conventional heat pumps will operate a 
back-up system when the sky remains overcast for 
long periods. 

The rest of the plant will be heated by reclaiming 
the heat usually wasted during the process of 
generating electricity. Power generation produces 
heat. The great amount of heat given off by the 
generators is normally regarded as an unwanted 
by-product to be gotten rid of whenever the 
generators are running. The usual procedure for 
this is to circulate water in cooling coils. The water 
absorbs the heat, which is then disposed of when 
the water is discharged downstream from the plant 

At the Pyramid site, this waste heat will be 
captured for use by redirecting the heated water to 
coils in fan units throughout the plant's interior 
space. When the generators are not being operated, 
usually during night-time hours, heat pumps will 
draw heat from the water held in Pyramid Lake and 
return the resultant cooled water to the reservoir. 

Within the generator room, the turbine gallery, 
and the shops, interior cooling is not as critical a 
factor as in the control wing because these areas 
will be largely underground and because few of the 
plant's personnel will be spending much time there, 
as a rule. These areas will be cooled sufficiently by 
directing reservoir water through coils in the same 
fan units throughout the plant that were used 
durmg the heating mode and by using heat pumps 
that use the reservoir as their "heat sink ". (Stated 
most simply, during the cooling mode, the 

refrigerant of the heat pump absorbs heat from the 
room and transfers the heat to the reservoir "heat 
sink"; in the heating mode, the refrigerant absorbs 
heat from the reservoir water as its "heat source" 
and transfers the heat into the interior space.) 

The plant will be lighted inside and out by energy - 
efficient high-pressure sodium lamps. Because 
sodium lamps permit only an average level of color 
perception, locations where it will be vital to 
distinguish color differences accurately — in color- 
coded wiring, for instance — the latest energy- 
efficient conventional lamps will be installed. These 
will possibly be improved types of fluorescent or 
incandescent lamps. No artificial illumination will 
be needed during daylight hours for the 
aboveg round parts of the plant. Natural daylight will 
be sufficient. At night, only the lighting needed for 
operations and security will be used. 

The design of Pyramid Powerplant presents a 
thoroughly workable solution to the question of 
energy conservation. However, since the contract to 
install generators, turbines, and other equipment is 
not expected to be awarded until 1980, DWR is 
using the intervening time to watch for and evaluate 
changes in technology that will affect the choice of 
materials and equipment used in the plant, such as 
solar panels, absorption chillers, and controls DWR 
is presently considering the use of evacuated tube 
type solar collectors, which make collection of 
higher temperatures possible. By monitoring the 
state of the art during this period, DWR will be able 
to take advantage of the best of the most recent 
refinements in a fast-moving field. 

This article was prepared in the Division of Design and Construction, 

Sacramento, by 

Frank V. Lee, Chief 

Architectural Design Section 


John Carrillo, Unit Chief 

Powerplants, Mechanical Design 


The Search For . . . 


In 1978 the Department of Water Resources 
embarked on a newventuretotestthesoundnessof 
an old idea — that "depositing" water in an 
underground "bank" when it is plentiful and 
Withdrawing it later when water is scarce can 
provide the large amounts of additional water the 
State Water Project will need in the future. 

While the practice of banking water below the 
earth's surface has been known for many years, all 
the conditions required for an integrated operation 
between State and local interests that would 
demonstrate its practicability on a large scale are 
rarely present. The torrential rains and heavy 
snowfall characteristic of the winter and spring of 
1977-78 gave DWR the perfect opportunity by 
supplying the water needed for such a 

The State Water Project (SWP) is presently 
supplied by the waterways of the Sacramento-San 
Joaquin Delta and by above-ground reservoirs such 
as Lake Oroville in Butte County. The SWP can now 
deliver about 2 800 000 cubic dekametres of water 
annually when water supply conditions are normal 
or better. Eventually it will be capable of delivering 
almost twice as much — 5 200 000 cubic 
dekametres — an amount that DWR will be required 
to provide, under the provisions of contractual 
commitments with a large number of local water 
agencies. Clearly, then, more water will be needed. 

By widening its functioning to include the 
combined use of surface facilities and underground 
storage, DWR is demonstrating that the SWP can do 
more than transport and deliver surface water. 

We have other possibilities for expanding our 
sources of water, one of which is building more 
surface reservoirs. Although California is a semi- 
arid region in which years of ample rain and snow 
alternate with drier years, it experiences enough 
■good" years to meet its needs at present, provided 
the runoff is captured when the streams are high 
and stored for use when precipitation ceases. This 
has been a successful practice for many years. 

However, building more surface storage facilities 
to meet higher demand in the future is not the only 
answer, or necessarily the best one. Most of the 

better reservoir sites have already been developed, 
and new sites often have environmental problems 
or are not economically justifiable. Underground 
reservoirs, on the other hand, provide an excellent 
means of storing water. They lie invisibly beneath 
the earth, making little mark on the environment. 
(Some land is needed for the spreading grounds 
through which surfacewater percolates.) The water 
held by a ground water basin is generally safe from 
surface pollution, and it can remain there for long 
periods until needed. 

Moreover, California's underground storage 
capacity is immense. Its basins extend for 
thousands of square kilometres, particularly 
beneath the San Joaquin Valley and southern 

There are, of course, both pros and cons in 
comparing surface and subsurface storage. Ground 
water basins generally provide free storage space, 
but there are some expenses involved in putting the 
water in the earth and pumping it out again. Surface 
reservoirs are relatively expensive to build, but 
many of them also provide income from the sale of 
the power they generate(when they are designed to 
include hydroelectric facilities). 

In view of these considerations, the Department 
of Water Resources undertook the Mojave 
Demonstration Project, a program that is intended 
to show how we can take advantage of our vast 
ground water storage potential to develop a reliable 
source of additional supplies in years to come. The 
Mojave project came about through agreements 
between DWR and two large San Bernardino 
County water agencies, the Mojave Water Agency 
and the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water 

After canvassing ground water basins 
throughout southern California, DWR selected the 
Mojave River basin as the site that offered the most 
promise. The basin has a lot of unused space and 
can admit great quantities of water in a relatively 
brief time, compared to most basins. (The 
usefulness of some other basins is limited because 
they have less empty space or they take water from 
the surface much more slowly.) Furthermore, few 
other basins were able to take on the added burden 


of storing water from the State Water Project in the 
spring of 1978 because, as successive storms 
brought drenching rains, spreading grounds filled 
with water that remained on the surface for many 
months, and water tables rose rapidly to new levels. 

Majave Res. 

'^— Son to A no Pipeline 

The Mojave Demonstration Project began last 
spring when DWR transported 28 000 cubic 
dekametres of flood flows from the Kern River in 
San Joaquin Valley by way of the California 
Aqueduct to Silverwood Lake, an SWP reservoir in 
the San Bernardino Mountams about 20 kilometres 
due north of the city of San Bernardino. (This action 
is related to events described in another article, 
"The Big Flood That Didn't Happen".) Then on 
May 9, DWR started releasing this water from 
Silverwood Lake north into the Mojave River. It 
flowed north for some distance, finally sinking into 
the Mojave River ground water basin between 
Victorville and Barstow. The releases continued 
into June. This was the first part of a two-part 

The situation was ideal. The Mojave River is 
normally a dry channel, and, under usual 
conditions, the water brought from Silverwood Lake 
would simply have been absorbed by the highly 
porous soil of the riverbed south of Victorville and 
never reached Barstow, where it was destined. 
Because of heavy rains in the area, however, the 
Mojave River was flowing and the riverbed was 

The Mojave River just downstream from Cedar Springs Darn, with 
water flowing toward the Mojave River Basin. 

saturated. The imported water could be "piggy- 
backed" on the river's flow, thus reaching the 
spreading grounds near Barstow with little 

Two months later, on July 7, the second part of 
the ground water storage operation began when 
DWR released more water from Silverwood Lake. 
This time it flowed south in the Santa Ana Pipeline, 
another SWP facility, to the Bunker Hill-San 
Timoteo ground water basins beneath San 
Bernardino and portions of Redlands, which had 
storage space available. Unlike the water delivered 
to the Mojave River basin, this water was derived 
from the State Water Project system and was 
transported by the California Aqueduct from the 
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The agreement 
with the San Bernardino Valley MWD calls for 
storing 6 200 to 9 900 cubic dekametres of water in 
these basins during 1978, up to a maximum of 
60 000 cubic dekametres at any one time. 

The relationship between these two separate 
operations is a somewhat complex one because it 
involves a "transfer " of water without a direct 
physical exchange. Essentially, this is what will take 
place: during the next four years, the Mojave Water 
Agency will buy the 28 000 cubic dekametres of 
water now deposited in the Mojave River basin from 
DWR, rather than order an equal amount the State 
Water Project would have delivered through the 
California Aqueduct. Of the total of 60 000 cubic 
dekametres of SWP water stored in the Bunker Hill- 
San Timoteo basins, ownership of which remains 
with DWR, are 28 000 cubic dekametres of water 
the SWP will not be delivering to the Mojave Water 
Agency This will increase the amount of water the 
SWP will have in storage, which will helpfirm up its 
overall yield. Over the next 15 years, as the water 
stored in the San Bernardino basins is needed for 
State Water Project operations, the San Bernardino 
Valley MWD will pump it back to the surface. 


The "exchange" of water between the Mojave 
and San Bernardino ground water basins is 
important because DWR needs an extended period 
of operation in which to determine how effective are 
its techniques for storing and recapturing ground 
water. This period is also needed as a means of 
confirming how much a ground water storage 
program costs and gaining experience in actually 
administermg such a program. 

The Mojave Demonstration Project is the first of 
its type for DWR. The groundwork was laid in 1 974, 
when DWR made a preliminary study to learn how 
much space would be available for storage in 
southern California's ground water basins. The 
results indicated that their capacity ran into the 
millions of cubic dekametres. Encouraged by this 
potential and by the interest expressed by local 
water agencies, DWR then began looking at the 
matter in greater detail. As studies continued, it 
became evident that many legal and institutional 
issues would have to be resolved before a practical 
program of ground water storage could be set in 
motion. A model program appeared to be the best 
way to find answers. This led to the development of 
the present project. 

At the ceremony marking its inception, the 
Mojave Demonstration Project was described as a 
new idea that had become a reality. Storing water 
below the ground is, of course, a familiar practice to 
California's water managers, but combining the 
efforts of State and local agencies is a fresh attack 
on a recurring problem — providing water when and 
where it is needed. 

At the ceremony marking the release of water from Silverwood Lake 
to the t^ojaue River Basin. From left, William Orchard, Chairman of 
the Board of Directors. Mo)ave Water Agency; Ronald B Robie, 
Director. Department of Water Resources: and Lloyd Yount, 
Chairman of the Board of Directors, San Bernardino Valley 
Municipal Water District. 

The results of the Mojave project will not be fully 
known for some time yet, but DWR has already 
gained some very useful information for similar 
projects elsewhere. One thing we are certain of — 
ground water storage will prove to be one sound and 
effective method, in conjunction with others, of 
making ever greater use of California's finite water 
resources. Ultimately we can apply what we are 
learning from this trial program to increase the 
annual yield of the State Water Project by about 
3 330 000 cubic dekametres of water. That is 
enough to serve a population of two million people. 
To achieve such an output means we will have to 
gradually build up our underground reserves to a 
total of about 3 to 4 million cubic dekametres. 

The Mojave Demonstration Project is a positive 
step toward realizing our goal, and the outlook is 
excellent for the cause of water conservation in 
California and the continued well-being of the State 
Water Project. 

Inlormation for this article was contributed by 

Clyde B Arnold, Chief 

Water Contracts Administration Section 

Southern District 

Los Angeles 


DWR Publications 

"Delta Water Facilities". Bulletin 76. July 1978. 


"The Water Management Element of the 

California Water Plan". Bulletin 4. (Scheduled for 

release in 1979.) 

"A Ground Water Storage Program for the State 

Water Project: San Fernando Basin Theoretical 

Model". Bulletin 186. (Scheduled for release in 


DWR Films 

"Ground Water: California's Sunken Treasure". 

14 minutes. (1977) 
Describes the importance of ground water 
development to California and shows how ground 
water reservoirs can be used to store flood water 
in wet years and then drawn on in water-short 
years. Animated sequences illustrate the 
physical characteristics of ground water basins 
and depict the changes brought about by 
degradation and depletion. 

Information on the materials listed here is given on the 
inside back cover. 





The Search For . . . 

The State is relying upon both conventional 
sources and new, nontraditional sources of energy 
to help keep water flowing through the State Water 
Project — economically — after March 31, 1983. 
Until that time, the Department of Water Resources 
(DWR), builder and operator of the Project, will 
continue to supplement its hydroelectricgeneration 
with electric energy from California utilities at low- 
price, fixed rates. 

The present low cost of power is the result of 
contracts that DWR and the electricity suppliers 
negotiated in the middle and late 1 960s, based on 
conditions and expectations during that period. At 
that time, no one could foresee that costs of 
generating electricity in conventional steam plants 
would skyrocket. 

When the present low-price contracts expire in 
1983, new contracts will be negotiated with the 
utilities, and prices are expected to be substantially 
higher. Even with minimal purchases from the 
utilities, power costs the Project must charge for 
pumping water are expected to increase five-fold 
after 1983, causing about a 70-percent rise in the 
total cost of water delivered by the Project. Unless 
DWR can develop less expensive alternatives to 
widespread purchases from the utilities, the cost of 
water from the Project will rise even more sharply. 

Another factor is that the Project will need 
increasing amounts of power in the years to come. 
In 1978, It expended about 4.5 billion kilowatthours 
to refill reservoir storage depleted by the drought 
and to deliver about 2 million cubic dekametres of 
water from its system. To meet expanding water 
deliveries, the Project will be consuming more than 
7 billion kilowatthours annually by 1985 and at 
least 10 billion kilowatthoursannually by 2000. The 
energy load projected for the turn of the century is 
equivalent to the electricity requirements of three 
cities the size of San Francisco. 

With rising costs and greater energy needs in 
mind, DWR is working with the public and private 
sectors m evaluating the potential use of a number 
of energy sources as alternatives to widespread 
purchases from utilities. It is particularly interested 
in these: coal, geothermal resources, biomass. 

small hydroelectric plants, pogeneration — the 
simultaneous production of useful heat and 
electricity — and wind. 



Billions of Kilowatthours Annually. 1979 2000 





Coal technology has come a long way in recent 
years. The technology for removing sulfur dioxides 
and particulates, and possibly nitrogen oxides, from 
the exhausts emitted by coal-fired power plants 
continues to advance. This factor, along with a new 
concept called pollution trade-offs, which permits a 
new power plant to reduce pollution loads of 
neighboring industries, could mean that DWR can 
move ahead in developing a new source of power 
that will not violate any air quality standards. 


DWR has been giving close consideration to coal 
as a potential energy source. Together with the 
California Energy Resources Conservation and 
Developmept Commission (Energy Commission), in 

1976 DWR funded studies of this matter by the 
University of California. This work resulted in a 

1977 report, "Study of Alternative Locations of 
Coal-Fired Electric Generating Plants to Supply 
Energy from Western Coal to the Department of 
Water Resources". 

DWR has now begun taking the first steps that 
will eventually lead to a large plant (up to 1000 
megawatts) it plans to build somewhere in 
California. The facility could be in operation by the 
late 1980s. About one-third of its output would be 
owned by and operated for the State Water Project, 
and the remainder would be owned by public and 
private utility companies, if they desire to 
participate in the plant. (A smaller plant would be 
constructed to supply only the needs of the Project.) 

A great deal of work must be done before the plant 
can become a reality, however. Work is presently in 
the preliminary stage, which includes performing 
preliminary engineering and environmental studies 
and preparing and filing applications for needed 
approvals and licenses from federal, State, and local 
agencies. A major part of the approval process will 
be obtaining site certification from the California 
Energy Commission, which must approve locations 
in California for all thermal power plants 50 
megawatts or larger. 

The siting process involves both government 
agencies and the public. It is carried out in two 
steps. A Notice of Intent (NOI) must be filed on a 
minimum of three alternative sites which provides 
basic information for assessing the technical and 
environmental suitability of the sites. An 
Application for Certification triggers more detailed 
analyses on a site approved during the NOI process, 
leading to certification of one of the three sites. 

This phase includes siting studies, preliminary 
design of the plant and emissions controls, 
environmental studies, transmission of electricity, 
coal transportation, studies of water supply, and 
filing applications with various regulatory agencies. 

In working with all agencies and the public during 
the entire process, DWR will make every effort to 
satisfy their various requirements and to make the 
proposed plant compatible with its environment. 
Liaison has been established already with other 
governmental entities, and an advisory committee 
composed of representatives of public 
organizations has been formed. DWR has also 

begun work to set up air quality monitoring stations 
at critical locations and has met with agencies 
having jurisdiction over air quality matters 

The alternative sites for the proposed plant will 
probably not be identified before the summer of 
1979. Studies of fuel sources and means of 
transporting the coal to the plant will overlap this 
work, and preliminary engineering and 
environmental studies on the selected sites will 
then follow. DWR expects to be abletofile its Notice 
of Intent with the Energy Commission in the spring 
of 1 980. 

Another possible development DWR is pursuing 
is the Fossil 1 and 2 Project of the Pacific Gas and 
Electric Company. This two-unit, 1 600-megawatt, 
coal-fired generating plant would be constructed in 
northern California by PG&E. DWR has indicated an 
interest in participating in the project and is in the 
process of negotiating an agreement with PG&E. 
Initial operation of the plant could be in the late 

DWR IS also considering participation m out-of- 
state coal-fired projects. For instance, we have 
establishftBl principles with the Nevada Power 
Company for a unique sharing arrangement to 
develop a 250-megawatt coal-fired unit at the 
existing Reid Gardner plant about 45 miles 
northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada. Both DWR and the 
company will benefit from the plan. The energy 
needed by DWR would be supplied for at least 15 
years, beginning in 1 983, with decreasing amounts 
thereafter. The peaking capacity needed by the 
Nevada Power Company would be provided in the 
mid-1 980s, thus relieving the company of the need 
to install gas turbine peaking units that burn high- 
cost fuels. The Nevada Power Company would have 
available the energy it will need in the late 1990s 
when DWR's participation will have declined. 


DWR has been actively investigating the 
development of geothermal ("earth heat") 
resources in California for some time. The States 
geothermal reserves, which make up 70 percent of 
the geothermal resources of the United States, 
clearly have a large potential for direct thermal iljses 
and for the generation of electricity This important 
resource is one of our least expensive sources of 
energy to date. Dry geothermal steam in The 
Geysers area in Lake and Sonoma Counties is 
harnessed and is currently producing impressive 
amounts of electrical power. 


Future site of DWR's South Geysers Powerplanl in the Mayucnias 
Mountains m Sonoma County, an area of abundant geolhermal 
activity. This facility, which is planned to generate 55 000 kilowatts, 

will be built on the 163hectare Rorabaugh leasehold. Circle at lower 
nght indicates Pacific Gas and Electric Company's powerplant Unit 
No. 15, not yet in operation. Other circles mark sites of operational 
PG&E geothermal powerplants. 

Other locations having favorable prospects 
include the Mono-Long Valley in Mono County, the 
Coso Hot Springs in Inyo County, the Imperial 
Valley, the Honey Lake area in Lassen County, and 
the Alturas area in Modoc County. 

After months of discussion with several oil and 
other fuel companies concerning conversion of 
geothermal resources into electricity at The 
Geysers, DWR signed a contract in September 1 977 
to purchase steam in that region from the 
McCulloch Oil Company, Geothermal Kinetics, Inc., 
and Entex Petroleum, Inc. The contract requires 
McCulloch, as operator for the three companies, to 
develop the wells, the steam-gathering system, and 

an effluent disposal system, and to sell the steam to 
DWR, which will use it to operate its first 
geothermal plant, the Bottle Rock Powerplant, a 
55 000-kilowatt facility it will build in the area. 

DWR recently submitted the Notice of Intent for 
the Bottle Rock plant to the Energy Commission. 
The plant is expected to be in operation by spring of 
1 983. DWR also signed a contract with Geothermal 
Kinetics for the development of still another 
55 000-kilowatt plant, this one near The Geysers 
resort area in Sonoma County. DWR intends tofile a 
Notice of Intent with the Energy Commission in 
early 1979 for this facility. 




Site of geothermal actwilii near Wendel in Lassen County. 
Vinyl covered greenhouses warmed by the heat from the ground 
appear at center left 

DWR is committed to the development of 
geothermal energy as a valuable, least-expensive 
resource for the future operation of the State Water 
Project and is pursuing additional development 
possibilities in The Geysers area, as well as in the 
Imperial Valley and other areas in the State. For 
instance, DWR has an option with the same 
developers involved in the Bottle Rock plant for a 
steam supply for a possible third plant in The 
Geysers area. If exploratory drilling is successful, 
and DWR elects to proceed with construction of a 
plant, the plant could be on line in 1 985. In addition, 
DWR has obtained a lease from the U.S. Bureau of 
Land Management for geothermal steam rights on 
188 hectares of land adjoining the field that will 
supply the Bottle Rock plant. Again, assuming that 
drilling proves this lease to be a viable field for 
geothermal development, DWR would proceed to 
develop a fourth 55 000-kilowatt unit in The 
Geysers area. 

Looking to the more distant future, DWR has 
entered into arrangements with developers to share 
the costs of exploratory drilling to find possible 
geothermal supplies in the Imperial Valley. Unlike 
the "dry" steam underlying The Geysers area, 
geothermal resources (hot water) under the 
Imperial Valley are considerably lower in 
temperature. Even if a usable resource is found, 
many technical problems in developing this hot 
water source will have to be solved before this 
potential source of energy can be price-competitive. 


A novel approach to developing electrical power 
is proposed in Lassen County, where DWR is 
involved jointly with GeoProducts Corporation of 
Oakland in building a cogeneration hybrid power 

plant. This plant is an example of cogeneration, in 
that it simultaneously will produce (1) heat for 
agricultural-industrial processes and (2) electrical 
energy. It is called a hybrid plant because it will use 
two types of energy sources, rather than a single 

The proposed plant, which will be situated near 
Honey Lake, has been designed to prove the 
practicability of combining two local abundant 
resources — low-temperature geothermal steam 
and raw wastes from lumber mills and tree 
harvesting — to generate electricity. Scheduled to 
begin operation in late 1 984, the plant will perform 
several beneficial functions. It will: 

Rid lumber mills and logging areas of wood 

Provide at least 35 000 kilowatts of electrical 
output to help run the State Water Project and up 
to 15 000 kilowatts for the local area, through 
local utility participation in the project. 

Allow GeoProducts to increase its use of 
• geothermal water to heat greenhouses and to dry 
vegetables and fruits. 

^Provide heat for the cultivation of fish, shrimp, 
and crayfish in aquacultural ponds. 


Collection of forest wastes for fuel offers other 
benefits to the environment because wood residues 
left by loggers are likely to contaminate 
underground water, if they are buried; to pollute the 
air, if burned; and to increase the danger of fire and 
provide breeding places for tree-damaging insects, 
if left on the ground. 

The concept behind the Lassen County plant is 
this: the relatively low temperature of the 
geothermal steam in the Honey Lake area is capable 
of removing the moisture from the wood waste to 
increase the efficiency of its energy output. The 
geothermal water is also used to preheat the water 
for the plant's boilers. The dried wood waste is 
burned to superheat the water which feeds the 
boilers, producing steam that drives the turbine- 
generator and thus generates electricity. The spent 
steam condenses and returns to heat exchangers to 
repeat the cycle Meanwhile, thegeothermal water, 
from which some heat has been extracted in the 
heat exchangers, continues its flow, still providing 
enough heat to warm greenhouses and for other 
uses planned by GeoProducts Corporation. 

Towatoes being raised ht;droponicall\^ in one oj the greenhouses 
healed by geothermal hot water. 

The project has support from local agencies, 
including the City of Susanville, Lassen County, 
Lassen College Foundation, and the CLR 
Consortium (California State University at Chico, 
Lassen Community College, and the University of 
Nevada-Reno) Estimated cost of this project is $45 
million, and DWR and GeoProducts will seek a grant 
from the federal government to fund part of this 

Successful construction and operation of the 
demonstration plant could lead to commercial use 
of the low-temperature geothermal resource to 
generate electricity, cultivate vegetables and fruits, 
and increase the State's forestry harvest, at the 
same time enhancing our natural environment. 


For thousands of years, the wind's force has been 
harnessed principally to drive sailing vessels and 
pump water through shallow lifts. Today we are 
giving serious consideration to the possibilities of 
converting wind energy to electrical energy. Energy 
shortages and the rising costs of fuels are making 
such a process increasingly advantageous. 

But wind-power conversion is not applicable 
everywhere. It depends on the availability of two 
essential elements: 

• Reliable, low-cost wind turbine generators. 

• Sites with strong, persistent winds. 

The U.S. Department of Energy has a program to 
develop wind turbine generating units with 
capacities in the range of 200 to 2 500 kilowatts. 
These promise to become commercially available in 
the near future. The 200-kilowatt prototype units 
have been installed and tested. The large 1 500- to 
2 500-kilowatt prototype units have been 
scheduled for installation and testing in late 1978 
and in 1979. 

In anticipation of the coming availability of 
inexpensive generators, DWR is investigating sites 
in California having the desired wind 

Most of California lies outside the world's regions 
of strong winds, although it does possess certain 
topographic features that tend to cause fairly 
constant, high wind velocities in some localities. 
These may permit the economical extraction of 
energy from the wind. In 1976, DWR began 
assessing prospective wind energy sites, including 
areas along the California Aqueduct in the San 
Joaquin Valley, a region known for its sweeping 
winds. The most promising locations appeared to 


• Pacheco Pass, near the City of Los Banos. 

• The Tehachapi Mountains. 

• The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. 

In spring of 1 976, DWR installed wind measuring 
stations at the California Aqueduct near the 
northern end of Antelope Valley and at the top of 
Wheeler Ridge in the Tehachapi Mountains. DWR 
has also obtained and evaluated wind records over a 
three-year period from an anemometer (an 
instrument for gauging wind direction and speed) 
located near Pacheco Pass. These records indicate 
that the Pass is a promising site for a wind-energy 

During July 1978, two meteorological 
consultants familiar with windflow over mountain 
terrain were engaged by DWR to survey the 
Pacheco Pass area. Surveying equipment included 
an instrumented high-altitude air-foil anemometer. 
A report on the results of the survey will include 
recommended anemometer station sites for 
possible future wind turbine field sites. 

DWR will conduct a computer modeling study to 
map wind velocity distribution at various heights 
above the ground and will install one or more 
multiple-level wind measuring stations in the 
region of Pacheco Pass to confirm the result of the 
mapping. It is expected that the findings of the 
above two studies will permit DWR to select the 
exact sites for turbines when lower-cost models 
become available. DWR also intends to make 
similar investigations in the Tehachapi and 
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta areas and other 
potential sites. 


In addition to searching for new sources of energy 
for the State Water Project, DWR is seeking to 
expand an old, reliable source — hydroelectric 
generation. Using the energy created by flows 
through the Hyatt-Thermalito facilities near 
Oroville and the California Aqueduct, the Project 
generates about half the electricity needed to run it 
(The amount varies in accordance with water 
conditions and Project water deliveries.) 

Under recent agreements, DWR will purchase the 
generation from two proposed hydroelectric 
developments: one, a 1 6 5000-kilowatt plant to be 
constructed at Pine Flat Dam on the Kings River by 
the Kings River Conservation District and the other, 
five small plants (totalling about 30 000 kilowatts of 
capacity) on the distribution system of The 
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. 

Artist's rendering of an experintental ii'ind lurbirte (o be built to 
develop wind energy sysfems and test their potential lor producing 
energy. It is designed for use at sites where the average wind speed is 
22.4 kilometres per hour. The 90 metre long rotor is supported on a 
SOmetre high tower. The generator will produce 2500 kilowatts of 
electricity. Called "the largest windmill in history, "the wind turbine is 
to be built by Boeing Engineering and Construction Company under 
an Energy Research and Development Administration program 
managed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 
Coiirtesv Boeing Engineering and Construction Co. 


In 1974, DWR identified at least 130 sites in 
California where there existed a good physical 
potential for further hydroelectric development. 
Each site was considered capable of generating at 
least 25 million kiiowatthours of electricity 
annually, and some quite a bit more. How many of 
these prospective sites may eventually be 
developed is problematical at this time. 

There are also numerous water storage sites or 
conveyance facilities in existence where energy is 
being wasted through discharge valves, chutes, 
energy dissipators, and other structures designed to 
arrest the force of flowing water. DWR has started 
to catalog many of these sites by sending inquiries 
to more than 800 water agencies throughout the 
State. The response has been significant, and DWR 
has now an active program to further the 
development of hydroelectric potential at existing 
water facilities or to encourage owners of facilities 
to develop such potential. A number of these sites 
are currently the subject of negotiation. 

Every means of power generation that bypasses 
the use of petroleum and natural gas holds out a 
hope for assured and economic future energy 
supplies to operate the pumps of the State Water 
Project that deliver water to California's farms and 
communities. If the present nontraditional power 
resources only match the conventional resources in 
cost, their use will still be a great step forward in a 
bigger frame of reference — helping the nation as a 
whole to reduce its dependence on imported fuels to 
replace diminishing supplies of petroleum and 
natural gas, 

DWR's long-range energy program for the State 
Water Project is well under way. Sources have been 
secured which will supply about 70 percent of the 
estimated pumping load for 1 983 — the year current 
power purchase arrangements expire. We are now 
actively pursuing development possibilities and 
arrangements to supply the remaining need. 

lnlormaltoi\ lor this article was contributed by 

John R Eaton, Chief 

Energy Utilization Branch 

Energy Division 



DWR Publications 

"Water and Power from Geothermal Resources 

in California; An Overview". Bulletin 190 

December 1974. Free 

"Water for Power Plant Cooling". Bulletin 204 

July 1977. Free. 

"The California State Water Project— 1976 

Activities and Future Management Plans". 

Bulletin 132-77. January 1978. $5.00. 

"Wind in California". Bulletin 1 85. January 1 978. 


"California Sunshine — Solar Radiation Data". 

Bulletin 187. August 1978. $2.50. 

"The California State Water Project— 1977 

Activities and Future Management Plans". 

Bulletin 132-78. October 1978. $5.00. 

DWR Film 

"Geothermal: The Roaring Resource". 22 

minutes. (1973) 
The search for new sources of water and energy 
has led to exploration of vast underground 
reservoirs of superheated steam. This film 
explains how the steam is formed and discusses 
some of the problems in developing this resource. 

Information on the materials listed here is given on the 
inside back cover. 



On a summer day, high on the Sierra Nevada's 
western slopes, you can stand on a bridge above the 
Tuolumne River at Tuolumne Meadows and watch 
the trout feeding in the clear, free-running water. 
Here, close to the rivers source, you see a vibrant, 
alive stream. But if you follow its course down 
toward the San Joaquin Valley, you will see the 
river change. Downstream near the gold rush town 
of La Grange, it slows to only a trickle, barely 
wetting the cobbled bottom. The water is warm, 
unshielded from the sun because the banks have 
been stripped of shading vegetation. Birds and 
mammals, once sheltered by dense growths of trees 
and shrubs on the banks, have also vanished. The 
salmon still return, but their numbers are fewer. 
There were about 40,000 here in 1 954. Only 1 ,700 
showed up in 1976. 

Regrettably, the Tuolumne is not unique. What 
has happened there has also happened to many of 
California's rivers and streams. The cause is rooted 
in the State's dependence on water, going back to 
its often reckless use in California's gold rush days. 

A clean liowmg stream is a precious resource. 

In more recent times, water is taken from streams 
for many uses. Vast quantities are diverted to 
hydroelectric power generation or go to meet 
domestic supplies, industrial processing, or 
farmland irrigation. Little remains to flow in the 
stream channels. Even where agricultural water 
returns to the streams for reuse, it is often salt- and 

As dams and levees have been built to reduce 
flooding, housing development, industrial growth, 
and agricultural expansion have transformed 
floodplains and streambanks. The result is the loss 
of often irreplaceable natural streamside (riparian) 
vegetation, wildlife habitats, and natural erosion 
controls. Out-of-stream uses and streamside 
developments have made major contributions to 
our wealth, well-being, and life style, yet they have 
often been developed without consideration for the 
natural benefits that are provided in and along full- 
flowing streams. How do we recognize and take 
advantage of these benefits? 


The "instream" concept originally referred to 
water flowing between the banks of a natural 
stream channel. In its 1 973 report to the President, 
the National Water Commission expanded the 
concept, citing a variety of instream uses and 
benefits, not all of which are confined to the stream 
channel but extend to the streambanks, the 
floodplam, and riparian vegetation. The 
Commission said that maintaining flows in streams 
was essential to safeguard the private Investment 
and to protect the public interest in fish, wildlife, 
recreational, esthetic, and ecological values. 

Many beneficial uses of streams rely on 
maintaining a good flow of water In the stream 
channel, such as navigation (both for commerce 
and recreation), hydroelectric power generation, 
fish spawning and migration, recreation, ground 
water recharge, scenic and esthetic enjoyment, 
preservation of rare and endangered animal 
species, maintenance of freshwater habitat, and 
preservation of thefree-flowing condition or natural 
character of certain streams. 

Beyond the edge of a stream, a riparian forest — a 
thickly growing mix of grasses, shrubs, and trees — 
offers many advantages. It provides settings for 
hunting, nature study, and recreation (camping, 
picnicking, hiking). It filters airborne dust and 
controls erosion. Riparian vegetation is also 
uniquely Important to wildlife. It not only provides a 
home for a wide diversity of resident species, but 
maintains necessary food, water, and shelter for 
many transient species of wildlife as well. 

basically three such elements: the flow in a stream 
channel, improved management of riparian habitat, 
and some provision for public access. 

Seasonally, at least, many streams In California 
suffer from inadequateflows, either In quantity or in 
quality. Possible "new" sources of water may be 
obtained In these ways: 

_ Creating a "new" supply by building surface 
reservoirs or extracting ground water. 

Modifying existing water project operations by 

■ timing their reservoir releases to allow greater 
advantage to be taken of the downstream flows 

Applying water for consumptive uses more 
efficiently. This will "save" water for use within a 
stream channel or will postpone the need to 
divert additional water from the stream. (The 
term "consumptive use" refers to "lost" water — 
water that is evaporated, used by plants in their 
growth, discharged to the ocean, included in 
manufactured products, or has been so polluted 
that it Is too costly to reuse.) 

Reclaiming treated waste water as a substitute 

■ for water diverted from the stream, leaving more 
natural flow in a stream. 

Water of appropriately high levels of purity is a 
fundamental factor of streamflow. A stream that 
has become polluted must beflushedor diluted with 
increased flows to protect both Instream and out-of- 
stream uses. 



^ ''^*~ ^^^Bmi^^^^^^^I^^^I 




Truckee River, upstream from bridge at Highway 89; rafting 
enthusiasts enjoy a lull-running stream. 


If we are to realize our useful instream resources, 
we must satisfy certain basic factors, which may be 
legal, institutional, or physical. Although their 
characteristics may vary from place to place, 
depending upon specific site conditions, there are 

Same scene, two months later: the dwindling flow has discouraged 
the rafter. 

We know we can achieve water of an acceptable 
quality in our streams and lakes. This has already 
been demonstrated by the rapid clean-up of these 
water bodies In the past 10 years. We can further 
Improve them by preserving the vigorous riparian 
vegetation that is still present, by appropriately 


timing reservoir releases to streams, by following 
well-founded soil conservation practices on 
watershed lands, and by effectively treating sewage 
outflow and industrial wastes. 

The wild vegetation that grows along 
streambanks and adjoining low-lying floodplains 
needs better protection, if we are to obtain the good 
to be gained by protecting wildlife habitat and 
recreation settings and esthetic values and by 
controlling sediment. Preserving existing stands of 
shrubs and trees and reestablishing streambank 
forests means that we should: 

Prevent clearing of vegetation (except for special 
flood control measures). 

Limit the grazing that destroys the leafy parts of 
many plants. 

Restore vegetation by replanting and protecting 
the interdependent mixture of shrubs, bushes, 
and trees that have reached varying degrees of 

The gravelly stretches where fish spawn and the 
capacity of a stream to carry flood flows can be 
preserved by limiting the growth of new vegetation 
on newly formed sandbars. In some locations, 
natural flows have been so diminished by upstream 
diversions that they are no longer able to remove 
this growth. 

Algae blooms can blanket a stream's surface when the current has 

Public access to streams is essential, too, so that 
people can enjoy what these places offer. This calls 
for rights of way to and along a river. Since such 
access may involve the rights of private property 
owners, as well as controls on public lands, we 
must be careful in designating areas that are open 
to the public. Moreover, the public needs to learn 
how easily streams can be damaged by careless or 
abusive treatment. 


Considering all these factors, preserving a 
presently healthy river is often a difficult task. Public 
and private resource managers must recognize the 
many real values of a free-flowing stream and know 
how to achieve them. When conflicting uses arise, 
their challenge must be met through economic and 
personal incentives for the manager to protect this 
valuable resource. 

The legislative route to saving a stream is not 
always smooth. Only certain streams can be 
included in the Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Nor 
is local zoning necessarily the answer, since 
permits to remove vegetation may be issued too 
liberally with little or no enforcement of the 
protection objectives of an ordinance. 

Preservation may be difficult, but it is far less 
costly than trying to repair the damage later An 
example of this is the extensive work being done on 
the Trinity River to restore lost spawning grounds 
for fish 

Few California streams remain in their native 
state. Most of our natural waterways, particularly 
those in urban areas and in the Central Valley, have 
been greatly changed. Consider again the 
Tuolumne River. It is 254 kilometres long, yet only 
28 kilometres of it flow freely. Some 59 kilometres 
have been inundated by reservoirs, and 167 
kilometres are severely regulated by six dams 
Large diversions draw over 136 cubic metres per 
second, while only 0.08 cubic metre per second is 
scheduled for release to the lower river each 

Other changes are also evident on these altered 
streams. Their tributaries carry sediment which is 
deposited in the main channel, burying fish 
spawning gravels. New vegetation consisting of 
willows, alders, and rushes rapidly takes hold on 
new-forming sand bars. The periodic torrents of 
floodwater which once swept through and removed 
this vegetation now occur less frequently, allowing 
it to becomefirmly rooted. This in turn speeds upthe 
accumulation of sediments, reducing a stream 
channel's capacity to carry away the flood flows 
when they do arrive. 

The lands along the streams arealsochanging. In 
many locations, high, fertile streamside terraces 
are being eroded because the sediment needed to 
replace them is no longer being transported and laid 
down by high flood flows. 

Urban development frequently causes another 
damaging chain of events. Roofs of buildings, paved 
areas, and streets present vast surfaces that are 


impenetrable to rainfall, causing storm water to run 
off rapidly, rather than being absorbed into the 
earth. The increased runoff accelerates the amount 
of flow in streams, throwing them into an unstable 
condition. Bank erosion accelerates, and silt from 
construction sites fills the beds of steams, 
decreasing a stream's capacity to carry high flows. 
The result is more frequent flooding and extensive 

Shortsighted economic pressures have 
encourage farm and urban expansion into flood- 
plains, despite the fact that these areas are 
periodically flooded by high river flows. As adjoining 
lands are cleared by expanding agricultural, 
residential, and industrial development, the natural 
stream-associated growths of trees and shrubsthat 
protect the banks from erosion are often cut down 
and carried away. Additional vegetative habitat is 
lost when fears of economic losses from flooding of 
these developments cause construction of stream 
control structures. These levees and channel 
linings in turn take the place of native streambanks. 

Today's water planners and managers must cope 
with a greatly different set of circumstances than 
existed before California's rush to mine gold. Goals 
and objectives must be set that are realistic in terms 
of our current and future stream conditions, rather 
than those of 100 years ago. 

Although we face many physical barriers to the 
fuller use of our streams, our way is barred by 
obstacles that are really more of an institutional 
nature. The means to supply streamflows, permit 
recreation, preserve riparian habitat, and maintain 
water quality are, for the most part, physically 
available. Since 1914, California water law 
governing the right to take water has required a 
diverter to have physical control over the water to be 
appropriated. This has favored the operation of 
dams or other structural controls but not continued 
instream flows. Historically, applications for 
permits to appropriate water have been considered 
on a case-by-case basis. It is therefore quite 
possible to win one legal battle on a certain stream 
and lose the next one. There is a dire need to better 
the position on water rights. 

To date, almost all stream maintenance efforts 
have been oriented towards preservation of 
fisheries. What is needed now is provision for 
preserving streamflows for additional beneficial 
uses, such as recreation, scenic beauty, and 
navigation. Public use of California streams for 
navigation and associated activities is protected by 
the State Constitution. However, access to our 
waterways is often blocked by private lands next to 

streams. Similarly, public rights of way at bridge 
crossings are frequently ignored by local 

Efforts to preserve and improve streams also face 
the battle of the dollar when competing with 
traditional land uses and water development 
sponsors. Economic methods might be used to 
show the high dollar value of instream benefits. But 
consider some of the difficulties. How do we 
measure the worth of a small neighborhood brook? 
A day spent in steel head fishing? The ex hi la rat ion of 
Whitewater boating? It is not easy to assign an 
economic value in cases such as these. 

Some values can be identified, of course, but like 
apples and oranges, these are difficult to translate 
into common terms for comparison. Fish can be 
measured by population numbers, diversity of 
species, or weight per stream mile; water quality 
can be measured by temperature, biochemical 
oxygen demand, or levels of total dissolved solids; 
hydroelectric power can be measured by 
kilowatthours or dollars; recreation can be 
measured by days of use or personal values relating 
to escape from workaday life. Yet no common 
means of stream evaluation has proved workable. 


We have a number of strategies we might use to 
preserve or enhance our streams. Those discussed 
here represent only part of the picture. Nor are all of 
them appropriate to every stretch of every river or 
creek. We present them to indicate some types of 
actions that are possible. 

Modify existing water projects. The 

existing capability of a dam or other control 
structure to regulate a stream may be used to 
augment streamflows, thus benefiting fisheries, 
recreation, water quality, and farmers who draw 
water for irrigation directly from streams. By 
altering reservoir release schedules (irrigation 
releases, and releases for flood control storage and 
electrical power generation), we now have enough 
water to make much fuller use of our instream 
resources. However, we would have to consider the 
cost of electrical power generation and electrical 
load management, the capacity of other reservoirs 
in an overall system for distributing water, and the 
effect on recreation facilities and fisheries when the 
water in a reservoir is lowered. 

Antelope Reservoir on Indian Creek, a tributary of 
the North Fork of the Feather River, is maintained by 
the Department of Water Resources at a relatively 
stable level to provide a scenic setting for 
recreation. Studies by DWR have indicated that 


flows into Indian Creek could be increased, thereby 
enhancing the stream's recreation potential, 
without impairing the reservoir. Flows have been 
stepped up, and DWR is now studying the effects on 
both reservoir and stream. These flows appear not 
to affect the recreational uses of the reservoir 
Measurement of their impact on the fishery is 

Most of the flow of the Trinity River is diverted to 
the Sacramento River, and its diminished flows 
cannot transport the enormous amount of sand 
carried into it by a tributary stream. The sand has 
been filling the spawning beds, thus helping to ruin 
the fishery. Work is under way to alleviate the 
problem, much of which could have been averted by 
good watershed management. 

Amend power project licenses. Between 
now and 2000, over 30 power project licenses 
issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory 
Commission (the former Federal Power 
Commission) will expire in California. In addition to 
providing for adequate streamflow, the renewed 
licenses could also be changed to require public 
access to project lands, replacement of wildlife 
habitat lost when the project was built, recreation 
development at the site, and provisions for public 

The Pacific Gas and Electric Company operates 
the Potter Valley power project, which diverts water 
from the Eel River into the Russian River. PG&E's 
application for relicensing of the project, which has 
gone to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 
could require the utility company to increase its 
minimum releases from the project. If this is done, 
the additional flows could benefit either or both 

Permit additional stream flows. When a 
water development project is planned, the design 
engineers must include provisions to meet 
demands far in the future. The period from project 
completion and full project demand may span many 
years. During this time, water above the amounts 
immediately needed could be allowed to flow 
downstream to satisfy instream uses. 

As an example. New Bullards Bar dam and 
reservoir on the Yuba River, built in 1970 by the 
Yuba County Water Agency to provide more 
irrigation waterthan an older, smaller dam, controls 
floods and generates electricity. Releases from this 
reservoir are regulated to minimize seasonal 
fluctuations, thereby maintaining a fairly even flow 
year around in the Yuba River. 

Unfortunately, project managers have been 
reluctant to provide such flows. Local water districts 

believe such suggestions may be an encroachment 
on their water rights Furthermore, in cases where 
these interim flows have been released, the public 
has insisted on continuation of the augmented 
flows beyond the interim period Thus, resumption 
of lower instream flows has become politically 
difficult for the water suppliers and has reinforced 
their reluctance to allow interim flows on other 

Import water from other areas. The 

extensive water development that has taken place 
m California enables us to transport and distribute 
water far from its place of origin. Places where 
water is in short supply receive water from areas 
where it is abundant. This same practice could be 
applied to streams. Excess water supplies could be 
transported to streams with inadequate flows or, 
better yet, substituted to fill a local demand that has 
been depleting the river. Offsetting effects may 
include generating losses, higher energy 
requirements and costs for pumping, reduced water 
transporting capabilities, potential loss of water 
rights, and diminished opportunities to supply other 
service areas. 

DWR has begun a two-year study to determine 
what benefits can be gained by maintaining year- 
around flows in Alameda Creek near Livermore. If 
the program is successful, similar efforts may be 
possible in other areas served by the State Water 

Change points for returning and diverting 
water. Water is frequently transported to service 
areas through artificial channels from diversions at 
higher elevations. Any water that returns to the 
stream usually enters far downstream, and the 
long, intervening stretch of river suffers a deficiency 
in flow. A stream thus depleted could be revitalized, 
if the water were taken farther downstream at a 
point closer to the service area. If this were done, 
the instream uses would be considerably benefited. 
Water right holders between the original and 
relocated diversion points would also receive better 
quality water However, the original diverter might 
experience a decrease in power generation and 
poorer quality water, and might have to pump the 
water being diverted, instead of simply letting it flow 
by gravity. 

Unconsumed water is often returned to the 
stream. The point of return might be moved 
upstream or downstream, depending upon 
streamflow requirements, the quality of the return 
flow, constraints on stream water quality, pumping 
requirements, and the conveyance facilities 


The City of San Francisco is supplied principally 
by water taken from the Tuolumne River high in the 
Sierra Nevada and sent to the city by the Hetch 
Hetchy aqueduct. The river could be improved if the 
water were allowed to flow instead down the 
Tuolumne and San Joaquin Rivers to the Delta and 
from there sent to the city by an existing system. 

Use waste water. Waste water (unconsumed 
water remaining after use and commonly degraded 
to some degree) represents a potential source for 
instream uses, if the amount of degradation is not 
too high. Unfortunately, some instream uses 
require relatively high quality water, and the 
treatment needed to bring waste water to the 
desired level of purity may be too costly. 

Since this is often the case, we should look at 
another possibility. Waste water could be 
substituted for the better water currently being 
used for irrigation or industry for which poorer 
water will suffice The better water could then be 
applied to instream uses. The disadvantages of 
using treated water include initital high costs of 
treatment, the added cost to the users of the waste 
water that arises from the need to meet public 
health standards, and effectiveness of the available 
water quantity in fulfilling stream purposes. 

The Ventura River in Ventura County is one of the 
State's southernmost streams that steelhead travel 
up to spawn. The increasing demand for water in 
the area has greatly loweredthe river'sflowandthe 
fish are in difficulty. Increasing the flow in the 
stream with reclaimed waste water could save 
them. An even better method would be to replace 
the fresh water industries are now taking from the 
stream with a supply of reclaimed waste water. 

Use water more efficiently. As the 

experiences of the 1976-77 drought have 
illustrated, many water-using processes do not 
need all the water they took before their supplies 
were cut. The lessons the drought taught regarding 
more efficient use of water can be applied to 
seasons of normal water supply, if water thus 
conserved is not diverted from stream channels. 

The East Bay Municipal Utility District is presently 
supplied chiefly by water imported from the 
Mokelumne River. It will also be purchasing more 
water from the American River. If, for example, 
users served by EBMUD continue to conserve water 
as well as they did during the drought, the district 
will not need this additional water for some time in 
the future. 

Consider revising water rights 
laws. California's laws governing the right to take 
and use water figure importantly in the whole 

question of stream management. In determining 
whether water Is available for appropriation, the 
beneficial uses of water for fish and wildlife and for 
recreation have not always been viewed on a par 
with the traditional uses for which water is diverted 
from streams. In considering an application for 
water, the State Water Resources Control Board 
must determine that water is "available for 
appropriation" and must reject theapplication if the 
proposed appropriation would not serve the public 

In the language of the California Water Code, 
water is not "available for appropriation" if the 
public interest requires that "the amounts of water 
required for recreation and the preservation and 
enhancement of fish and wildlife resources" 
remain within a stream. Terms and conditions 
attached to permits to take water from streams can 
thus protect their flows. This issue and other water 
rights practices have been studied for possible 
revision by the Governor's Commission to Review 
California Water Rights Law. (The work of the 
Commission is discussed m another article in this 
issue, "Water Rights Laws May Be In For Change".) 

I Learn more about needs of streams. The 

time is long past in California when the question of 
"How much water does a stream require?" can be 
answered with "Full natural flow" or "All that's 
available". This is due in large part to the natural 
characteristics of many streams in the San Joaquin 
and Sacramento Valleys, which have been 
considerably altered by water projects and 
watershed developments. If they are to be 
successful, efforts to manage our streams must 
supply or reserve enough water to make sure that 
the desired instream benefits actually will occur. 
Likewise, such elements as levels of water quality, 
the extent to which streamside vegetation 
encroaches on a stream, the amount of shade that 
trees cast on the water, and the quantities of sand 
and silt deposited in the stream channel and on 
ocean beaches at the river's mouth must be 
managed appropriately. 

To do this, we need guidelines that accurately fit 
California's stream situation. For instance, 
streambank vegetation that intrudes into spawning 
gravels could be controlled by reducing the 
germination of their seeds. Information on the 
number of people who visit a stream for recreation 
and the type of leisure activity they pursue needs to 
be considered in relation to various conditions at the 
site: how easily the visitors reached the stream, 
how much water is flowing in the stream, the 
water's temperature, and the weather. 


Use Davis-Grunsky funds. The l960Davis- 
Grunsky Act originally earmarked $130 million of 
State Water Project funds for grants and loans to 
local public agencies to build local water projects, to 
better the lot of fish and wildlife, and to develop 
recreation facilities. In 1976, the California Water 
Commission agreed to consider grants for well- 
conceived projects for stream improvement on a 
case-by-case basis. The grants could be conditioned 
by contracts requiring agencies to monitor changes 
in fish populations, vegetation, water quality, and 
erosion. This could disclose new information for 
evaluating stream projects in the future. More 
important, the grants could encouragethe agencies 
themselves to consider improving the streams in 
their areas. 

Marin Municipal Water District is presently 
building Soulajoule dam and reservoir on Walker 
Creek, a stream in northwestern Marin County that 
is normally dry during the summer. The district is 
seeking a grant from the Davis-Grunsky program to 
cover the additional cost of slightly increasing the 
size of the dam and reservoir. The extra water 
provided will mean a summertime flow can be 
maintained in the creek. 

Improve methods of managing 
watersheds. Vegetative ground cover retards 
runoff and allows water to penetrate the soil. The 
soil retains this water, much of which filters 
through rock crevices, sand, and gravel beneaththe 
ground and seeps into adjacent streams. By the 
time this water reaches a stream, the initial runoff 
has already passed. Thus the soil functions as a 
natural reservoir to augment streamflows during 
periods of low runoff. 

By experimenting with various ground cover 
species, watershed managers could find ways of 
accelerating runoff or increasing the capability to 
retain water. Streams generally benefit when more 
vegetative cover is grown to repair the damage 
caused by paved areas, overgrazing, and intensive 
removal of timber and brush. Decisions made by 
watershed managers must include consideration of 
such matters as watershed ownership, erosion, 
stream silting, replanting or reseeding vegetation, 
vegetation conversions (for instance, changing 
from brush to grasslands), and the lengthy periods 
required for soil and vegetation to recover from 

Use zoning laws to protect streams. Vaiu 
able streambank habitat can be protected at the 
local level where much of the power to control the 
use of land resides. County general plans and 
zoning ordinances, such as Napa County's Water 

Course Obstruction-Riparian Cover Ordinance, 
provide this protection, while still allowing for flood 
hazards, water quality, wildlife populations, 
streambank erosion, air quality, esthetics, and land 
ownership. Establishment of such ordinances can 
be encouraged at both the State and the local level. 

Purchase streambank property 
rights. Vegetation and wildlife habitat along 
streams can be greatly protected through a 
combination of private and public ownership, if 
those who manage a stream are sufficiently 
preservation-minded. Although full public 
ownership may be appropriate for the most valuable 
habitat, it is extremely expensive to acquire enough 
land to completely maintain the wildlife community 
that depends on it. The State Lands Division has 
undertaken a long-term program to clarify titles to 
land along navigable streams m the Central Valley. 
Where adjudication indicates the State holds title, 
wildlife habitat could be protected and public access 
made available. 

A lesser but still useful degree of protection for 
streambank vegetation can be provided by 
purchasing easements. This has two distinct 
advantages: it leaves property ownership in private 
hands, and it costs less to acquire. Stipulations of a 
particular easement should be well thought out and 
clearly stated. Otherwise, activities like overgrazing 
or excessive timber harvesting might defeat the 
easement's purpose. 

In August 1978, the State Reclamation Board 
accepted a report recommending retention of 
streambank vegetation at 38 sites along the 
Sacramento River. To implement the report, the 
Board could buy or lease the property involved or 
obtain environmental easements requiring the 
vegetation be retained. 


The State Reclamation Board, which was 
established to develop and carry out flood control in 
the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys, acts to 
protect streambank habitat on both its own land and 
on privately owned land. A Board policy statement 
issued in December 1976 stated: "The Board 
recognizes the vital importance of riparian 
vegetation to fish, wildlife, recreation and esthetic 
quality. . . . And that all practicable steps, 
consistent with the primary flood control purpose of 
these activities, be taken to preserve and encourage 
riparian growth. " The Board is acquiring 
environmental easements for the Sacramento 
Riverbank Protection Project. Where the Board 
owns land that has significant value for wildlife 

habitat, it has begun to permit the California 
Department of Fish and Game to manage the land 
as wildlife habitat. 

The Board must approve any plans by private 
landowners to alter any levee, embankment, or 
canal under its jurisdiction. When an owner 
proposes clearing vegetation, and such work will 
lead to erosion of the levee bank, the Board can step 
in and halt the operation. 

Designated Floodway Plans, which are part of the 
Reclamation Board's responsibility, generally 
include some land-use restrictions to ensure 
adequate flow capacity in designated floodways. In 
the case of the San Joaquin River Floodway, the 
Board, the Department of Water Resources, the 
Department of Fish and Game, and the State Lands 
Division are working together to preserve major 
segments of valuable habitat and, at the same time, 
maintain the capacity of stream channels to carry 
flood flows safely. This sets an example for 
multipurpose management of other streams. 


Certain species of trees that grow along 
streams — oak, alder, and Cottonwood, for 
instance — are valuable in the manufacture of pulp, 
furniture, and other wood products. Riparian 
species could be designated as "commercial 
species", as some already have been, and the land 
designated as "commercial timberland", under the 
California Forest Practices Act. Then the State 
Department of Forestry could protect wildlife, and 
the land's productivity, to some degree by 
controlling tree harvesting. The recreational value 
of the land could also benefit. Unfortunately, the 
Act, of itself, is not enough to prevent timberland 
from being converted to other uses less beneficial to 
wildlife and recreation. 

In the past, numerous construction projects have 
caused environmental damage that has required 
extensive repairs. Wildlife habitat has been 
purchased, facilities for recreation and fish 
spawning have been built, and roads constructed. 
Future projects, and existing ones which have not 
yet replaced environmentally damaged resources, 
might fill their obligation by contributing 
significantly to the improvement of streams. This 
could be done by supplying water for recreational 
boating and for fish, by preserving wildlife habitat, 
by creating sites for recreation facilities, and by 
securing public access to streams. 


The Department of Water Resources is 
attempting to improve stream conditions and foster 
the realization of instream benefits in a number of 
ways. Fisheries in the Feather River tributary of 
Indian Creek and in the Trinity River are being 
examined to see how fish populations respond to 
flows of different volumes. These studies should 
help in predicting what flows will bring about 
desired numbers of fish in California streams. 

Another study of instream needs is the river 
recreation surveys conducted along several 
California streams. Their purpose is to; 

Gather data on the intensity and types of 
A recreation use along some of our most popular 

Find the relation between environmental and 
A streamflow conditions and uses of streamside 

Develop guidelines that will aid resource 
^ managers in determining what flows are 
desirable for recreation activities on different 
types of streams. 

California's streams provide countless hours of enjoyment for those 
who like to fish. 

By supplying staff specialists to The Reclamation 
Board, DWR is helping find ways of retaining the 
streambank vegetation that controls erosion. Trial 
plantings of new growths have been made so that 
their value in resisting flood flows and making 
streams more appealing can be evaluated. 

Unfortunately, the Department's efforts, even 
when coupled with those of other State agencies, 
cannot do the whole job of bringing new life to 
California's rivers and creeks. This calls for the 
continuing active support of the public at large. 

Last May, at a DWR seminar on instieam uses 
held in Sacramento, representatives of many 
California water organizations were brought up to 
date on stream conditions and potentials. This has 
awakened more people to the importance of 
stream-related values. Much more needs to be 
done, however. More public contact is essential. 
Both rural and urban residents will have to be 
introduced to the problems faced by California's 
stream resources, so they can bring their support to 
the preservation and improvement of the States 
natural waterways. 

This article was prepared in ihe Division ot Planning. Sacramento. 


Charles Pike 

Land and Water Use Analyst 


"Final Report of the Governor's Commission to 
Review California Water Rights Law." December 
1978. $3.50. 

DWR Films 

"Up the Down Stream". 12 minutes (1977) 
Condenses into 1 2 minutes the 4-year life cycle of 
the Pacific king salmon. It also delineates the 
effects of dams and reservoirs that block natural 
spawning stream areas, and the countermeasures, 
which include fish ladders, hatcheries, and fish 

"Designated Floodways in California". 15 

minutes. (1978) 

Describes the California Reclamation Board 
program designed to control restrictive 
encroachments in the floodplains of rivers. It 
explains the program's purpose, the methods 
used to study a waterway and set floodway 
boundaries, and public hearing procedures, and 
shows that the program is administered 
cooperatively with local government agencies. 

Information on the materials listed here is given on 
the inside back cover. 

(Available from the California Department of 
General Services, Documents Section, P. 0. Box 
1015, North Highlands, CA 95660. General 
inquiries on the subject may be directed to the State 
Water Resources Control Board, Office of Public 
Affairs, 1 41 6 Ninth Street, Room 61 5, Sacramento, 
CA 95814. Phone (916) 322-8353.) 

DWR Publications 

"Eel-Russian Rivers Streamflow Augmentation 
Studies". Bulletin 105-5. March 1976. $3.00. 

"Instream Use Seminar Proceedings". October 
1978 Sponsored by the Department of Water 
Resources, the Department of Fish and Game, and 
the State Water Resources Control Board. Free. 

"The Water Management Element of the 
California Water Plan". Bulletin 4. (Scheduled for 
release during 1979.) 

"Sacramento River Environmental Atlas". 1 978 



William Hammond Hall 


Just over one hundred years ago, in March 1 878, 
a young man named William Hammond Hall was 
selected to fill the job of State Engineer, a newly 
created position in State government in California. 
It was a post he was to hold through 1 1 tumultuous 
years of politicking and squabbling over California's 
water resources. Hall had turned 32 only the month 
before, but he had already gained a wide range of 
experience in the field of engineering. 

Hall began his career modestly enough as a 
draftsman for the U. S. Engineer Corps at the age of 
1 9. A year later he went to work as an engineer for 
the U. S. 6oard of Engineers, where he metGeneral 
B. S. Alexander, who was the ranking engineering 
officer on the Pacific Coast and the man who would 
later actively support Hall's appointment as State 
Engineer. When Hall was 24 years old, he spent a 
year making the first topographic survey of the 
Golden Gate Reservation in San Francisco, the 
large land preserve that would later become Golden 
Gate Park, and for about five years was the first 
engineer and superintendent of parks for San 
Francisco. Following this. Hall was employed by two 
banking institutions as engineer in charge of large 
land and water holdings in the San Joaquin Valley. 
Two years later came the offer from the State of 

Hall was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, in 
February 1846. His parents brought him to 
California when he was seven years old, and he 
spent his youth in the Stockton area. He was 
educated at a private academy, and his schooling 
was directed toward preparation for entrance into 
West Point military academy. The outbreak of the 
Civil War in 1861, when he was in his mid-teens, 
caused his parents to change their plans for him. 

Soon after the Civil War ended. Hall obtained his 
first engineering job, assisting in barometric 
measurement in the mountains of Oregon with the 
U. S. Engineer Corps. In 1 866, he took the job with 
the U. S. Board of Engineers and was engaged for 
about five years in topographic surveying along the 
entire Pacific Coast of the United States. He served 
as draftsman and field engineer during surveys of 
building sites for fortifications, lighthouses, and 
harbors from the San Diego harbor to Neah Bay in 
the territory of Washington, then the northernmost 

harbor on the coast. During the same period. Hall 
also traveled on surveys of the rapids in the upper 
Columbia and Willamette Rivers to find ways of 
improving navigation, and he was involved in 
topographic contouring of the San Francisco 
peninsula, particularly at the Presidio and Point 
Lobos in San Francisco, and hydrographic work for 
the San Diego and San Francisco harbors. 

In 1870, Hall was awarded a contract by the 
Board of Park Commissioners of San Francisco to 
make his topographic survey of the Golden Gate 
Reservation. One year later, after the 
commissioners had accepted the results of his 
survey, they appointed him to his post of 
supervising parks in San Francisco. During his five 
years there, he took the first successful steps in the 
process of stabilizing a vast region of sand dunes 
with transplanted vegetation. Hall's early 
involvement in this work, which predated the efforts 
of the famous John McLaren, paved the way for the 
ultimate transformation of these lands into a world- 
renowned park. 


When Hall entered State service, there was no 
shortage of problems facing him. He served during a 
period in which California was wrestling with a 
number of very knotty questions relating to the 
development of water. As characterized many years 
later by Hall, three great water difficulties 
predominated when the State Engineering 
Department was formed. He called them "The 
Irrigation Fight " (the riparian water claimants 
versus the appropriative claimants), "The Debris 
Fight" (the hydraulic mining interests versus the 
lowland property owners and the river navigation 
interests), and "The Reclamation Fight " (the 
swampland reclaimers — called the "anti-debris" 
interest — versus the hydraulic mining companies). 

The matter of the control of water for irrigation 
was a hotly contested issue that finally caused a 
new group, the Pro-Irrigation Party, to break away 
from the two major political parties of the day, the 
Democratic and the Republican. At question were 
the differences between irrigators who exercised 
riparian rights by taking all the water they wanted 

from streams flowing past their property, and the 
appropriators, who took whatever water they 
wished from streams and lakes, wherever it was 
available, and conducted it as far as necessary to 
reach their land. Competition between the two 
classes of users was often bitter, particularly when 
dry years caused a shortage of water. To add to the 
picture, the two conflicting practices were entirely 
within the law of the time. 

Hall was later to describe his position in the 
matter in this way: ". . . theofficeof State Engineer 
was created apparently with the idea . . . that by 
some hocus-pocus or feat of 'science' the two 
interests were by it within a few years to be brought 
together in harmony." The contenders had no such 
idea, he said, because he later learned that persons 
on each side thought they might use his office "to 
their own ends and the discomfiture of their 
antagonists." He believed that the water rights 
tangle that prevailed owed its troubles to the 
monopoly and waste of water. 

The second source of strife, the fight over river 
debris, centered on the conflict between owners of 
farming property and the powerful hydraulic mining 
companies. The miners, who had been investing 
enormous sums of money in developing their highly 
profitable enterprises since the late 1850s, were 
engaged in stripping gold from rich sites in the 
northern California foothills of the Sierra Nevada. 
At the renowned Malakoff Diggins near Bloomfield, 
for example, between $3.5 and $4 million in gold 
was removed between 1862 and 1884. The high- 
pressure jets of water they used to dislodge the gold 
also loosened colossal amounts of silt, sand, and 
gravel that washed into streams and traveled into 
the Sacramento Valley, burying orchards and field 
crops, sometimes to a depth of many metres. The 
damage was so widespread in some years that the 
future prosperity of agriculture was seriously 
threatened Angry farmers sought relief from the 
courts for many years. (An injunction granted by a 
federal court in 1884 made it illegal for miners to 
discharge tailings into streams and rivers, and put a 
stop to hydraulic mining for several years.) 

The big mining companies also collided head-on 
with the shipping interests. The great masses of 
earth materials that were choking the rivers filled 
the channels and formed shoals, making navigation 
difficult or, in some locations, impossible A bar 
formed across the mouth of the American River at 
Sacramento as early as 1860, and by 1866, many 
steamboats were no longer able to land at 
Sacramento. The situation was critical because the 
busy inland waterways that ships could travel on 
were essential to the continued economic well- 
being of California. Three-fourths of the farm 
produce of the day were transported to market by 
water, with as many as 60 river steamers and 40 
barges in operation by 1880. 

The build-up of mining debris in the rivers was the 
cause of another great problem — the devastating 
floods that plagued the Sacramento and San 
Joaquin Valleys periodically, particularly in years of 
heavy winter and spring runoff. The constricted 
channels became less and less able to carry this 
water safely, and it often spilled over riverbanks and 
levees, spreading widely across the valley lands. In 
1879, about 2 200 square kilometres of the 
Sacramento Valley were covered, and the water 
remained in some places for many weeks. The 
inundated area reached as far north as the mouth of 
the Feather River. 

Jfy/rauhc Minina 

\uH nl' liriiu-iit I'roni l/n l/ii/in/i/t/t ,1/ S141/ Islmnl 

The third area of disagreement that occupied the 
attention of Hall and many water interests was the 
fight over land reclamation. This involved those who 
wanted the State to bring a halt to hydraulic mining 
to protect the valleys from further damage so the 
land could be restored for farming and other 
settlement. These people believed that the State 
and federal governments should dredge the rivers 
and build new river outlets and large relief canals. 

In addition to these great areas of conflict, all of 
which had been brought about by human activity, 
another type of occurrence that was beyond human 
control also pointed up the State's perilous position 
in regard to its water. Natural shortages of water 
caused by lack of rainfall — in particular, the 
disastrous drought of 1863-64 — greatly impaired 
agriculture, which was coming to occupy a vital 
position in California's economy. The then-thriving 
cattle industry in southern California was so 
decimated that it never regained its earlier 

Created out of an attempt to achieve some 
compromise that might end years of struggle 
between various factions, the office of State 
Engineer was assigned a great number of duties. 
The State Engineer was directed to investigate 
three major elements: the irrigation of low-lying 
lands, the condition and capacity of the largest 
streams, and the improvement of navigable rivers. 
He was also expected to consider the relationship 
between hydraulic mining and inland navigation. At 
the time no thought was apparently given to solving 
the mining debris problem by stopping the mining. It 
was a booming industry of great economic 
importance to California. Therefore, one of the State 
Engineer's responsibilities was to come up with a 
plan to avert the damage it was causing "without 
interfering with the working of such mines". 


Despite the bickering, the partisanship, and the 
intense lobbying by competing interests that 
marked Hall's tenure, the State Engineering 
Department was able to accomplish a lot of solid 

engineering work. Rivers were gauged; floods, 
rainfall, and runoff were measured; and wells were 
sounded, all by means of a broad but well -organized 
study of the physical conditions of California. Some 
of this work culminated in a singular collection of 
climatic data that covered measurement of ram, 
snow, temperature, wind, evaporation, natural 
drainage, streamflow, and artesian wells. 

Hall's first action upon assuming office was to set 
about immediately to organize and equip several 
survey parties and send them into the field to collect 
data. The first surveys began in May 1 878, and the 
last group of men was disbanded in October 1879. 
In those 1 8 months, a total of 40 men were engaged 
in three principal types of investigations: surveying 
rivers, irrigation, and mining debris damage. Hall 
himself spent some time in the field. 

One of Hall's surveying parties out in the field measuring the depth 
and flow of a river. This pencil sketch, drawn by a member of this 
early-day party, was found at the back of one of the engineer's field 
books m which the daily survey data were recorded. Under Hall's 
direction, survey crews ranged widely throughout California during 
1878 and 1879 

One party was sent to the head of the Kern River 
to learn how and where the flood water draining 
from the Sierra Nevada could be stored for 
irrigation. The group also examinedthe headwaters 
of the Tule, Kaweah, and Kings Rivers and noted 
nine possible reservoir sites among the four rivers. 
Another party was dispatched to Los Angeles and 
San Bernardino Counties to determine the extent of 
irrigable land and the facilities that would be 
needed to irrigate it. Twenty-three potential 

ihrnl, „„„.i thll, . ri \,„,„ri,r,il, 

tiiliiiiit, li'llh \ii)nim<iiliil!i\ii 

reservoir sites were surveyed in the mountains and 
foothills of these counties for storage of surplus 
winter flows. 

One survey party sent to make detailed 
examinations and surveys of the upper Sacramento 
River traveled several miles along the channel, 
mapping levees, banks, and former channels. 
Debris surveyors looked at rivers that were carrying 
heavy burdens of sediment and silt from mining. 
River surveyors sounded streams and gauged their 
flow. A special survey was made of irrigation 
systems in use in Tulare, Fresno, and Merced 
Counties, and a drainage investigation considered 
the flooding potential in the Sacramento and San 
Joaquin Valleys, where a total of 7 150 square 
kilometres of land were subject to inundation. 

While they were in the field, some parties took 
water samples to classify the type of debris a stream 
carried, made tidal and river computations, and 
devoted much time to closely examining and 
classifying soils in Fresno, Tulare, Los Angeles, and 
San Bernardino Counties, section by section and 
township by township. Boundaries of classes of 
soils were outlined and the character of soil and 
subsoil determined for their suitability for irrigation. 
By 1880, more than 400 000 hectares of land had 
been studied. 

The State's survey teams traveled by boats or by 
wagons drawn by teams of horses. They were 
equipped to remain in the field for many weeks or 
months, carrying among their gear the engineering 
and surveying instruments that Hall, in many 
instances, had had specially built to meet their 
needs. Their wagons and boats were also modified 
for this particular work, according to Hall's 
specifications. For travel on water, he hadthe boats, 
which were called arks, fitted out as houseboats 
with living quarters. 

The journeys of the survey parties were arduous, 
taking them into rough, unsettled parts of theState. 
The men worked in heat, wind, and mud, and 
sometimes in high water, and parties operating 
during the winter were often endangered by floods. 
In the heavily mosquito-infested valley lands along 
rivers and in marshy regions, malaria caused great 
hardship. On one trip, almost every member of a 
river survey party was stricken at the same time. In 
Halls words: "Frequent severe attacks of malarial 
fevers and other ailments . . . few individuals have 
gone through the season without an attack 
compelling cessation of work for several weeks; 
some have been seriously ill, and one death has 


Hall wrote voluminously about the work of his 
office and sent comprehensive reports to the 
various governors and members of the Legislature 
who served while he was State Engineer. His report 
to the Legislature in 1880, the first of several that 
would follow periodically, is a good example. With 
an engineers eye for detail and desire for precision. 
Hall drew a clear picture of the state of irrigation, 
conditions of rivers, and the effects of mining 
between 1 878 and 1 880. He spelled out the ills he 
saw needing attention and the remedies lie thought 
the most effective. 

Finding ways of preventing floods and increasing 
the drainage of flood water was clearly a pressing 
matter. Hall recommended uniform treatment of 
rivers to protect lands from what he called "ordinary 

'/ l."«>> f- ,, 'f. p ^^ 


riiUrmgtfir ntrniiil irdiim nf Ihe Miriill, toii cl ihe SncninKiili' Iturr 

floods", but he also thought that floods of such great 
magnitude would occur that they would have to be 
allowed to spread over some lands. He proposed 
flood escape weirs to handle the great floods that no 
levee system, no matter how high, could contain. 
His suggestion was that a "large escape way" be 
built on the west bank of the Sacramento River 
between the city of Sacramento and Knights 

The damaged condition of rivers was another 
topic Hall covered at length. He reported that a 
defective levee system on the Sacramento River, 
where some levees were sound and some had 
failed, was interfering with the river's flow and 
causing shoals and sandbars to form, imperiling 
shipping. Hall saw the need for a uniform plan of 
levee construction and also proposed straightening 
the river, removing shoals and bars, and dredging 
the channel, both to prevent flooding and to further 
navigation, and wrote specifications for a plan of 
river improvement. He believed that the injurious 
flow of sand from mining operations could be halted 
by building dams and diverting the mud- and silt- 
laden water to settling reservoirs. 

For the San Joaquin River, Hall recommended a 
number of cutoffs, channel straightening and 
enlargement, and levees in the downstream portion 
toward the Delta. These would, he felt, avert 
flooding and maintain the river's navigability. 

Hall was greatly disturbed by the changes in 
major northern California rivers due to the 
influence of hydraulic mining, which had greatly 
accelerated from 1862 on He estimated in 1880 
that the bed of the Sacramento River at the city of 
Sacramento had risen at least 1 V2 metres*, the 
Feather River at the town of Oroville had risen 
nearly 2 metres*, and the Yuba River at its mouth 
had risen about 4 to 4y2 metres*, all from the 
deposition of mining wastes. As one example of the 

seriousness of the problem, in May 1879, an 
engineer from Hall's office observed some 600 
hectares* of orchards and fields above Marysville, 
near the Feather River, covered with standing water 
that had been there for two months. That, noted 
Hall, was land that had not been submerged for 
more than two or three days, even during the great 
flood of 1862. 

Hall's remedy: capture the sand and gravel in the 
river canyons near their source by building barriers 
of stones quarried from nearby cliffs. The mining 
debris would settle behind these dams, while the 
water would flow through them and later, as the 
sediment increased, over them. This would protect 
the cities of Marysville and Sacramento, allow the 
mines to continue operating, and save large 
agricultural areas. Hall did not consider that the 
whole answer, however. With his customary 
emphasis on long-range planning, he said: ". . a 
sustained and systematic treatment of thedrainage 
lines of this State are a necessity." 

Problems relating to irrigation, which hecalled "a 
vital matter ... a question of life for the people," 
took a major part of Hall's time. His 1880 report to 
the Legislature outlined his views of the situation, 
dwelling particularly on what he thought the State 
should do. He categorized the irrigation 
investigation with three questions: Where, how, 
and how much water shall be allotted? What 
political organization or legal system shall be used 
for distribution? What basis of security can be used 
to build and operate the works needed to do this? 

"Great harm has been done," Hall wrote, "to the 
best interests of California by obstructing the 
development of her agricultural resources through 
a defective water right system." In his day. State 

• Hall's report gave these figures: the Sacramento River. 5 feet, 
the Feather River. 6 feet; the Yuba River, 1 3 to 1 5 feet; and the 
land flooded, 1,500 acres 


Mark* fhr tnltnng tht Snermnfnln iiml itj fhrkt iil Ihrir i 

government followed a hands-off policy in regard to 
water rights. The distribution of water was left to 
those who claimed it, and their disputes were taken 
to the courts for settlement, a practice he described 
as "free-to-all rule which brings trouble to all." It 
was his belief that the only possible means of 
bringing to an end the wrangling over the use of 
water was for the State to intervene by providing 
laws and regulations and acting as a mediator in 
water rights conflicts. "In my opinion," Hall said, 
"the solution of the irrigation problem is m the 
solution of the water rights difficulties." 

By 1887, Hall was advancing the idea that 
California should form a nonpartisan five-member 
commission on Irrigation and water rights that 
would examine existing laws and frame proposed 
new laws. This body could draw on the data already 
amassed by the State Engineering Department and 
call on the services of the State Engineer for 
technical advice. Although he thought some State 
intervention was necessary, he also believed that 
water should bedistributedtofarmers through local 
public or private agencies. 

Throughout most of the years he was in office. 
Hall fought the battle of the dollar with the 
Legislature. The State Engineering Department 
was launched in 1878 with a two-year 
appropriation of $100,000. In 1 880, when the funds 
for the next two years were allocated, the 
department was cut to $25,000. In 1 881 , Hall asked 
the Legislature for $50,000 to complete the 
Irrigation Investigation. He received $20,000. 
Reporting to Governor-elect George Stoneman in 
November 1882, Hall wrote somewhat tartly: "I 
have been unable to complete with $20,000 that 
which I had estimated would cost $50,000, and it 
will devolve upon the Legislature at its approaching 
session to say what shall be done under the 
circumstances." Hall received a further blow when 
only $10,000 was appropriated to cover the 
operation of his office from 1 885 to 1 887 In 1 888, 
in his last report before leaving his post, Hall 
complained of having to spend $3,000 of his own 

money (in addition to something less than $1 ,000 of 
the State's money) to publish a report on irrigation 
in southern California. 

The evident lack of legislative enthusiasm for the 
work of the State Engineer was a source of deep 
distress to Hall, who was repeatedly frustrated in 
his attempts to convince that body of the 
significance of the Irrigation Investigation His 
ultimate bitterness over declining financial support 
and his inability to complete the task he had been 
assigned began showing up as early as 1 882, when 
he remarked: "Upon being appointed State 
Engineer, presuming that the Legislature knew 
what it was about when it enacted (its) instructions, 
my work was laid out to cover the more important 
fields of observation " 

By the close of 1888, Hall haddecidedthat he had 
had enough, and, in his final report on the status of 
the State Engineering Department, submitted his 
resignation. Hall left office an angry and 
disappointed man Recognizing that efforts to 
abolish the Department that had occurred 
repeatedly since it was established would probably 
be renewed, he said: "I have now accomplished 
enough in this office . . toacquit myself creditably, 
I hope, from a professional standpoint . . . and I 
want to be rid of the position. Some one else, if 
required, can now take up this irrigation work, as 
State Engineer ... I will not." 

Hall summed up the position of his office by 
repeating his conviction that the State Engineering 
Department should be placed on a permanent 
footing, if California wanted to benefit fully from the 
work it had already accomplished. Liberal support, 
he urged, was essential to the study of the States 
water supply, irrigation, arterial drainage, and 
reclamation problems. The time would come, he 
predicted, when the State would be forced to 
regulate streams for irrigation, drainage, and 
reclamation, and there would be need for data 
records of the type his office had amassed. 

When he left State service in March 1889, Hall 
was appointed to the State Examining Commission 
on Rivers and Harbors but left it almost 


immediately. He was then appointed that same 
month to the post of supervising engineer of the 
U.S. Irrigation Investigation (later the U.S. 
Reclamation Service) for all the region west of the 
Rocky Mountains. He was one of three engineers 
who organized and managed the first examination 
of irrigation by the federal government. In mid- 1890 
he left that organization and entered a five-year 
period in private practice as a civil engineer, during 
which time he was in charge of irrigation and water 
supply work in southern and central California and 
in the StSte of Washington. 

In 1896 Hall began four years of overseas 
employment, commencing with a job in South 
Africa as a consulting engineer on irrigation and 
water works. He had chargeof building a largeplant 
for supplying water to the principal mines near 
Johannesburg in the Transvaal for a large mining 
syndicate, and under contract to the Cape Colonial 
Government, he reported on irrigation and drafted 
new laws on water and irrigation. After three years 
there. Hall took a job as consultant on irrigation and 
canal projects for the Russian Empire, working in 
the Russian Transcaucasus and in Central Asia. 

He returned to California in 1 900 and engaged for 
many years in the management of properties for 
investment and development. He gained control of 
lands in the Lake Eleanor and Cherry Creek 
watersheds, which lie in and near the western 
boundary of Yosemite National Park, and was, for a 
time, engaged In efforts to sell these lands to San 
Francisco as a source of water for the city. Hall died 
m San Francisco in October 1 934 at 88 years of age. 

Despite his far-rangmg experience and his 
demonstrated engineering and organizational 
abilities. Hall was at somewhat of a disadvantage in 
dealing with the political pressures typical of his 
years with the State of California. He was evidently 
unwilling to compromise in order to accomplish 
what he sought to do. Judging from his periodic 
reports to the governor and the Legislature, he had 
little patience with those who failed to see the value 
of his recommendations. However, he took on an 
enormous task and carried out its responsibilities 
with vigor and determination, and left a rich legacy 
to water planners of the future. 

Under hispersonal direction, extensive surveys of 
irrigation, rivers, water storage sites, and land 
reclamation in California were performed. This 
work, which has been acclaimed by several of his 
successors through the years, represented the first 
systematic study of these important subjects in the 
United States. Today Hall is recognized as the father 
of the concept of statewide planning of water 

In 1904, looking back on his years as State 
Engineer, Hall wrote: "Great interests were in 
active contention. The engineer who advocated a 
plan or measure seeming favorable to any one of 
these, was condemned by all others; and he who 
pursued any independent course, as to policy or 
works, was in favor with none of them; while the 
great public took no interest in the matter except to 
condemn anything which contemplated general 
taxation." He said further: "The truth did not prevail 
where misrepresentation could be made to serve a 
desired selfish purpose, and blind prejudice was 
everywhere present." 

Although his plans and recommendations went 
largely unheeded while he was in office, Hall never 
lost belief in the rightness of his views, and he was 
to live to see marked improvement in the political 
climate regarding the critical need for regional 
water planning. From his 1904 vantage point, he 
observed that the public seemed to have a better 
understanding of the matter and the special 
interests that made his time as State Engineer so 
trying "are now apparently saner in their views." 
One area of progress. Hall believed, was the change 
in attitude toward State control of drainage and 
reclamation work. On this point he wrote, with 
typical assuredness: "If anyone in the State is to be 
congratulated upon this development, I consider it 
to be myself who bore the brunt of the fight in its 
favor when the squad of believers in it was 
small . . ." 

This article was written in the Division of Planning, Sacramento, by 
Travis Latham 
Research Writer 



The position first held by William Hammond Hall took a circuitous path 
through State government during the years following histermof service. This is 
a capsule history of what happened. 

1 878 Office of State Engineer is established; State Engineermg Department is 

1889 State Engineering Department is extended for two years; State 
Mineralogist is named ex-officio State Engineer. 

1 893 Position of State Engineer is merged with a new position. Commissioner of 
Public Works, which is established to study flood control problems and 
manage certain public works. Other functions once performed by the 
State Engineer are delegated to the California Debris Commission, the 
Department of Highways, and the Lake Tahoe Wagon Road 

1 907 Position of State Engineer reappears as executive officer of an advisory 
board to a new organization, the Department of Engineering, which 
assumes duties formerly performed by the Commissioner of Public 
Works, the Department of Highways, the Debris Commission, and the 
Lake Tahoe Wagon Road Commission. The new department is in charge 
of engineering work for the San Francisco Harbor Commission; design 
and construction of State hospitals, prisons and schools; flood control 
investigations; construction of flood control works; and reclamation and 
land drainage projects. 

1921 Powers and duties of the State Engineer and the Department of 
Engineering are assumed by a new organization, the Department of 
Public Works. Its Division of Engineering and Irrigation, successor tothe 
Department of Engineering, is headed by the State Engineer. 

1923 Department of Public Works is reorganized into three divisions: 
Engineering and Irrigation, Water Rights, and Architecture. The Director 
of Public Works also acts as Chief of Engineering and irrigation and as 
State Engineer. 

1929 Division of Engineering and Irrigation and Division of Water Rights are 
combined as the Division of Water Resources (within Public Works). The 
State Engineer heads the new division. 

1 956 Position of State Engineer comes to an end with the establishment of the 
Department of Water Resources, which now performs water and flood 
management planning for the entire State and operates theState Water 
Project, and with the formation of the State Water Rights Board, which 
administered California water rights matters. (The board's function is 
now part of the duties of the State Water Resources Control Board ) 







O 05 

O V 

HI 00 
— 00 

Q T- 














New Wa\js to Save Water 


Farming is big business in California. Taken as a 
whole, we produce close to 1 percent of the dollar 
value of all food grown in the United States. Not 
surprisingly, the amount of water needed to support 
that kind of output is also big Agriculture accounts 
for 85 percent of all water used by consumers in the 
State. It takes more than 40 million cubic 
dekametres of water each year to supply the 
3 600 000 hectares of farmland under irrigation. 
That is enough water to meet the needs of almost 
four times the urban population of the State for a 

However, net demand is somewhat less. 
Streams, reservoirs, and wells have to provide only 
about 80 percent of the total (32 million cubic 
dekametres) because some of the water taken for 
irrigation is recycled 

California farmers in general often use water 
efficiently. However, with the growing emphasis on 
conservation in many areas of activity these days, 
the large amount of water used by agriculture has 
brought considerable attention to bear on 
possibilities of increasmg water savings on farms. 
Other factors generating interest inthisareaarethe 
rapid rise in costs of energy to pump water from 
wells, the great difficulties many farmers 
experienced during the recent two-year drought, 
and the high cost of developing new water supplies. 

Makmg the present water supply go farther is a 
potentially important way of meeting some of our 
future food needs without building more dams and 
reservoirs. With only a very small reduction in the 
yearly net demand — say, one percent — farmers 
could conserve 370 000 cubic dekametres, which is 
as much water as could be provided by a major new 

Agricultural water can vanish durmg use in three 
ways: it evaporates mto the atmosphere; it seeps 
underground to ground water reservoirs, possibly 
mixing with salty water deposits; or it is carried from 
irrigated fields to surface drain systems, for 
subsequent discharge to places where it cannot be 
reused, such as the salty sloughs on the northern 
shores of San Francisco Bay. All three are 
considered losses. (From the standpoint of 
hydrology, water is never really lost. It moves 

through a great cycle in nature, changing form as it 
goes from atmospheric vapor to rainfall to streams, 
lakes, and oceans, with interruptions for human 
use, and back into the air as a vapor.) 


In the farming regions of this State, water is 
typically diverted from a river or a reservoir or 
pumped from the ground (often from more than one 
source). It is routed to the fields and applied to soak 
the soil and make it available to crops The water 
then follows many paths. It evaporates from the soil, 
it is given off (transpired) by plants, it collects in the 
root zone of plants, it percolates down to ground 
water, and it runs off the land back to the river 
(surface return flow). 

In portions of California that receive less than 
about 50 centimetres annual rainfall, a small 
surface or subsurface outflow is essential to flush 
and carry away the salts in irrigation water that 
accumulate in the soil. This condition is particularly 
true for the San Joaquin Valley. 

Farm irrigation system, showing distribution ditch, wellpump (upper 
left), check gate for controlling flow m the ditch, and siphons to carry 
the water from ditch to furrows. 

Some of the water delivered for irrigation slips 
from use, usually unavoidably as a matter of routine 
farm operation. What happens is this: as a rule, 
surface irrigation begins at the highest elevation, 
and the water is siphoned from open ditches or 
canals running past the fields or from subsurface 


pipes. It flows onto successive fields, ending at the 
lowest. When the last field has been watered, the 
farm has no further means of using the water that 
remains in the conduit (unless it is recycled by 
pumping it back to the highest fields and applied as 

If ditches are being used, this water must be 
emptied into a drain that removes it from the farm 
and conveys it elsewhere, usually for some 
distance. If pipes are being used, no such loss need 
occur for the farmer. The flow can be halted by 
closing a valve at the end of the pipe and the water 
stored there for later use. 

Other losses occur when pipes must be cleaned 
or when breaks in a line must be repaired. Water is 
sometimes spilled from the distribution system on a 
farm when orders and deliveries have not been 
synchronized. Rainfall may have made irrigation 
unnecessary, although the water has already been 

Losses are arrested in a number of ways. Ditches 
and canals are lined or pipes installed to reduce 
seepage; automated gates or valves are installed; 
and regulatory ponds or tanks are built to store 
water that would otherwise be disposed of as 
off-farm drainage. Water is also saved when 
deliveries are scheduled and applied so that losses 
from surface runoff and percolation toground water 
are reduced. 

Even if it were possible to do so, eliminating all 
loss from any given farms distribution system may 
not be wise from the standpoint of total water 
management because new sources of water would 
then have to be found for users dependent on this 
waste water supply. Moreover, not all water that 
escapes is truly wasted. Some of it benefits fish and 
wildlife by helping support the marshes and 
wetlands they inhabit; some helps replenish ground 
water reserves; and some is returned downstream. 
However, controlling losses remains a sound 

Techniques for reducing water loss and for 
lowering the amount of water needed by irrigating 
more efficiently are well known to farmers, but 
ways of decreasing the water lost through 
evapotranspiration (evaporated from the soil and 
transpired by plants) are only now being developed. 
In both cases, little information is available on the 
quantity of water that might be saved or the 
incidental benefits that might be obtained, such as 
energy savings, a decline in the number and 
frequency of crop and soil pests, or reduced costs for 
pumping water from lower to higher fields. 

AgrocHmatic slation with evaporation pan contaming water 
(center), rain gauge (left), and weather shelter, which holds 
instruments to measure air temperature and relative humidity. This 
station is recording climate data that relates the water consumed bv 
the nearby orange trees to the rate at which water is evaporating 
from the pan. 


The Department of Water Resources is keenly 
interested in encouraging investigation into the 
effects of improved irrigation methods on water 
conservation and has a program of financial support 
for irrigation research. Several studiesthat relateto 
more efficient use of water in farming were in 
progress in California during 1978. 

The University of California at Davis has been 
studying the amounts of energy required for several 
irrigation methods with differing types of soils and 
climates. Investigators have identified desirable 
and undesirable ways in which crop irrigation might 
be changed, from the standpoint of conserving both 
energy and water. For example: irrigation by 
sprinkler systems, which is commonly believed to 
always be the most efficient method. Sprinklers 
allow greater control of the water, but they also 
experience high rates of evaporation, especially in 
hot weather; they lose water by drift in high winds; 
and they consume a great deal of electric power. 

Sprinkler irrigation. A center pivot set up is in ti.-. 


The Davis studies indicate that sprinkler irrigation 
may be unsuited to hot, dry areas, such as the 
Imperial Valley and the Mojave Desert, because of 
great evaporative and drift losses. The information 
gained in this research program, which was 
financed primarily by the University and the State 
Energy Commission, will provide a basis for 
selecting the desirable irrigation methods to be 
advocated through educational programs. 

-** Vr .^j' 



W^ rf^l^ 


I -^t"^] 

.' 'r-. 4ii 

^^^^^fe, *' ■ -1 

1 . . 11^3-, 

bicinrijn pKiln' [/sed (o measure changes in soi7 moisture. The 
radioac/iue source of neutrons (A) fits into the access tube (B) 
leadirig into the ground. The probe (C) counts the neutrons. This 
instrument is used in agricultural research to determine how much 
water is being consumed by frees 

Field studies of the comparative efficiency of drip, 
sprinkler, and furrow irrigation systems for orange 
trees have been conducted by the San Joaquin 
Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center 
operated by the University at the town of Parlier, 
near Fresno. Researchers also looked into the 
relationships between fertilizer use, level of crop 

production, quality of water, and rates and amounts 
of water use. The two-year study, which began in 
1976, will provide a means for estimating the 
quantity of water that could be saved by altering 
irrigation practices. 

A five-year field study that began in 1 978 in Kern 
County is demonstrating the cultivation of cotton 
grown with brackish (moderately saline) irrigation 
water The work is being done by the U. S. Salinity 
Laboratory Shallow ground water of unusable 
quality is being diluted with goodquality water from 
the California Aqueduct and applied to the fields at 
several levels of quality. If the program is 
successful, it could prove that substituting poor 
quality drainage from other crops or from shallow 
ground water could lower the demand for fresh 
water in the San Joaquin Valley. The program is 
sponsored by the Kern County Water Agency, with 
additional financial support from the U. S. Bureau of 
Reclamation, the State Water Resources Control 
Board, and the Department of Water Resources. 

Irrigation of orchards in mountainous areas is 
being studied in El Dorado County to determine 
rates of water usefor various combinations of slope, 
exposure, prevailing winds, air temperatures, and 
types of cover crops. Mountain orchards grow under 
conditions that differ widely from those on flat 
valley lands. The terrain is much steeper than is 
usually considered irrigable, andtheground around 
the trees must be protected from erosion by 
low-growing vegetative cover. These orchards need 
more water to support the ground cover and to 
compensate for the higher incidence of winds, but 
this is offset by generally cooler weather, which 
reduces water need. In cases such as this, where 
variable factors work in opposition, it is important to 
find the balance by measurement in the field. 

At some of the El Dorado County orchards, 
investigators are also measuring amounts and 
changes in soil moisture in order to determine how 
much water should be applied and when it should 
be applied. This study, which began in 1977, was 
designed to last for two years. It is being conducted 
cooperatively by the University of California andthe 
Bureau of Reclamation. 

The University and the Department of Water 
Resources are developing a soil moisture 
management program to be used by farmers 
throughout California in scheduling irrigation and 
estimating amounts of water to apply. The intent is 
to save water by greatly expanding the use of 
evapotranspiration (ET) data prepared by DWR and 
the Bureau of Reclamation. If more farm operators 
can be encouraged to plan their irrigation on the 


basis of soil moisture, the amount of water that is 
lost to deep percolation to ground water and surface 
runoff should be significantly reduced. 

The initial phase of the program to manage soil 
moisture consists of developing curves for rates of 
ET versus time, preparing a soil moisture 
accounting system, and conducting a field trial of 
record-keeping material for farmers. Later DWR will 
collect and distribute ET data through the public 
media. The UC Agricultural Extension Service will 
distribute workbooks for maintaining ET records 
and instruct farmers in their use. 

Starting in 1978, the Department of Water 
Resources undertook a statewide program of 
collecting and evaluating information on how 
special districts and privately owned utilities 
distribute irrigation water. DWR is usingthisdatato 
identify water service areas with high rates of water 
use and those in which water use is low. The 
objectives are to (1 ) identify agencies that might be 
receptive to water conservation by virtue of high 
water costs or water shortages, and (2) identify 
practices characteristic of efficient distribution to be 
advocated through information programs. Agencies 
in the Central Valley are being surveyed first. Later 
on other agricultural regions of the State will be 

Claremont Graduate School is cooperating in the 
study to discern the possible social and political 
reasons for differences in relative efficiencies of 
water use. Among the questions they will answer 
are: do water districts that serve the smaller family 
farms operate more or less efficiently than agencies 
serving areas held by large farm corporations, and 
do districts having boards of directors elected by 
popular vote operate more or less efficiently than 
those in which the vote is according totheacreages 

This program will also examine the relationships 
between the cost of water, types of crops grown, 
and amounts of water used. These data will be used 
to determine which method of charging for water is 
the most conducive to conservation and what price 
tags will be needed to lower use. The information 
will also be used to estimate how future water use 
will be affected by higher costs and changes in rate 
structures brought about by the passage of 
Proposition 1 3. 


The investigative programs now in progress cover 
a wide range of concerns for agriculture and water 
management generally, but more work is needed. 
Some of the more promising ideas being considered 
include improved management of orchard 
irrigation, conservation benefits to farmers, andthe 
relationship between rates of water use and crop 

Researchers working at the University of 
California have suggested a five-year field research 
study to be conducted at the Davis campus and at 
Parlier. The objective: to establish whether orchard 
irrigation can be cut back to less than a full supply. 

Irrometer tensiometers with gauges, measuring} soil motslurc. These 
instrumenis are useful m scheduling irrigation. They are inserted into 
the ground at depths ranging from 0.3 metre to 1.2 metres to 
determine whether moisture is available to plants in the area. 

Ri'Ms/uMii" ()/ a Thompson grape !cai lo uurcr /o-,-,, m ihtiusion. 
being measured by an autoporometer. The instrument, also called a 
diffusive resistance meter, indicates the amount of pores in the leaf's 


reducing evapotranspiration without damaging the 
trees. The study would also determine how the size 
and spacing of the trees in a grove affects 
evapotranspiration. If the findings are positive, 
important water savings might be achieved for the 
348 800 hectares of deciduous orchards in the 

California farmers are frequently encouraged to 
conserve irrigation water. The Department of Water 
Resources would like to define more precisely how 
conservation can benefit each farm operator. In 
other words, why save water? Some possible 
answers include lowered costs of pumping ground 
water, reduced need for fertilizer, improved quality 
of drainage water, alleviation of drainage problems, 
fewer soil and plant pests, and better fruit quality. If 
research into this question is carried out, the results 
would be used by the Agricultural Extension 
Service, the U. S. Soil Conservation Service, andthe 
Department of Water Resources to emphasize the 
real gains to be realized from more careful 

A third area for possible study is related to the 
amount of water applied to a crop and the yield 
obtained. At present, the relationship between the 
two appears to be uniform — the more water used, 
the greater the crop yield. In actuality, past a certain 
point, plants become waterlogged and production 
suffers. If water wereto become progressively more 
expensive, it might be desirable to reduce water use 
and crop production to a level that would provide 
maximum net income. 

This relationship for cotton, dry beans, and 
tomatoes has already been studied by the University 
of California Useful information could be gained by 
investigating crops such as alfalfa and pasture, 
which also take a large part of the State's irrigation 
water. The information obtained from this further 
research would be used by the Agricultural 
Extension Service to encourage farmers to apply 
only the water that will secure the greatest net 
profit, rather than all the water a crop can take. 

For the most part, California farmers are good 
irrigation managers, but it is the expectation of the 
Department of Water Resources that, with the 
increase of knowledge to be gained from research 
programs such as those described here, even 
greater efficiency in the use of water on farms will 
be achieved. 

Information for this article was contributed by 

Kenneth M. Turner 

Water Resources Planner 

Division of Planning 



DWR Publications 

"Water Conservation in California". May 1976 

"Agricultural Water Conservation Conference; 
Proceedings". June 23-24, 1976 (In cooperation 
with the University of California Cooperative 
Extension Service.) 

Information on the materials listed here is given on the 
iriside back cover. 



Metric to Customary System of Measurement 


Metric Unit 

Multiply by 


millimetres (mm) 


centimetres (cm) for snow depth 


metres (m) 


kilometres (km) 



square millimetres (mm^) 


square metres (m^) 


hectares (ha) 


square kilometres (km^) 



litres (1) 


mega litres 


cubic metres (m^) 


cubic metres 


cubic metres 


cubic dekametres (dam^ ) 


cubic hectometres (hm^) 


cubic kilometres (km^) 



cubic metres per second (m3/s) 


litres per minute (l/min) 


litres per day (I/day) 


megalitres per day (Ml/day) 


cubic metres per day (m^/day) 



kilograms (kg) 


tonne (t) 



metres per second (m/s) 



kilowatts (kW) 

1 .3405 


kilopascals (kPa) 


kilopascals (kPa) 



litres per minute per 



metre drawdown 


milligrams per litre (mg/l) 



microsiemens per 



centimetre (((S/cm) 


degrees Celsius (°C) 

(1.8 x°c) +32 

To get customary equivalent 

inches (in) 


feet (ft) 

miles (m) 

square inches (in^) 

square feet (ft2) 

acres (ac) 

square miles (mi^) 

gallons (gal) 

million gallons (106 gal) 

cubic feet (ft^) 

cubic yards (yd^) 

acre-feet (ac-ft) 


thousands of acre-feet 

millions of acre-feet 

cubic feet per second (ft^/s) 

gallons per minute (gal/min) 

gallons per day (gal/day) 

million gallons per day (mgd) 

acre-feet per day 

pounds (lb) 

tons (short, 2,000 lb) 

feet per second (ft/s) 

horsepower (hp) 

pounds per square inch (psi) 

feet head of water 

gallons per minute per 
foot drawdown 

parts per million 

micromho per centimetre 

degree Fahrenheit ( F) 



For the past two years, the Department of Water 
Resources has been engaged in moving gradually 
from the traditional English system of 
measurement toward the metric system, a decimal 
method in which all units are related by ten and 
multiples of ten. DWRs transition began as an 
outgrowth of the passage of the Metric Conversion 
Act of 1 975, signed by President Ford late that year. 
Among other goals, the act was designed to assist 
the United States in encouraging and coordinating 
the wider application of the metric system on a 
voluntary basis. 

Following the adoption of the Metric Conversion 
Act, the Department of Water Resources decided in 

1976 to switch over to the metric system of units. 
The system in use in most metric nations today is a 
modernized version of the metric system. It is 
known by the mitials "SI", which stand for Le 
Systeme Internationale d'Unites, or International 
System of Units. 

DWR established a Metric Task Force to consider 
the timing for eventual full-scale conversion and 
then began the step-by-step process, including 
short training coursestofamiliarizeemployees with 
SI units, as well as modifying its numerous public 
reports by adding SI equivalents wherever English 
units appeared and including a table of factors for 
converting English units to SI units. This was 
another move to accustom DWR personnel to the 
use of the system. 

DWRs efforts to "go metric" were strengthened 
by the California Legislature in 1977, when the 
California Metric Conversion Council was created 
within the Department of Food and Agriculture. The 
Council's function is to complement the work of the 
U. S. Metric Board and foster a cooperative 
relationship with State agencies and local 
government during the period of conversion. 

DWR's changeover was further expanded during 

1 977 when it began adding SI units to its maps and 
graphs, along with the customary units. In 
mid-1977, the English-first, metric-second 
arrangement in publications was reversed to place 
metric units as the prime measurement, followed by 
their English equivalent. Outgoing correspondence 
was treated in the same manner. This was done to 
put greater emphasis on SI usage. 


A look at the past will help put the matter of 
metrics in perspective. 

Thanks to the ingenuity of civilizations that have 
flourished during various periods of history, we 
Americans are the heirs of a curiously illogical 
system of weights and measures. For many 
thousands of years, people of many cultures that 
inhabited the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, and 
later spread into Europe, devised their own means 
of measurement or adopted those developed by 
earlier nations. Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, andthe 
countries of Islam have each in their time 
contributed to what has become for us a veritable 
melting pot of methods for identifymg distances, 
sizes, and weights. Some of their designations have 
long since vanished, and some we are using today. 

No one knows exactly when or how the art of 
measurement began, but we do know that the 
pyramid builders of ancient Egypt had worked out 
some very useful techniques as much as 5,000 
years ago. The Egyptian units were based on parts 
of the human figure. A digit was the width of a 
finger, a palm was four digits wide, and a cubit 
represented the length from elbow to the tip of the 
middle finger. Apace (one step) equalled ten palms, 
and a fathom (four cubits) was the measurement of 
the distance between one's outstretched arms. 

In light of the extreme precision we can now 
achieve, when necessary to do so, such a system 
seems pretty primitive, but it worked surprisingly 
well. The mathematical exactitude of those long-ago 
engineers is proven at the Great Pyramid of Khufu, 
for example, whose sides differ in length by only one 
unit in four thousand. 

We are indebted to the Romans for the ounce, the 
pound (as a measure of weight), the inch, the foot, 
and the mile. Through their far-ranging conquest 
and commerce, these practical folk were 
responsible for introducing and spreading the 
Eastern systems of weights and measures around 
the Mediterranean lands and across Europe, 
ultimately reaching the British Isles. In doing so, 
they added a duodecimal (1 2) basis for their foot and 
pound measurement units. Our 12-inch foot is a 
direct descendant. The yard we use nowto measure 


length has come to us from the early Britons, who 
modeled it on the distance around the belt line 
(girth) of the Saxon kmgs. 

As the nations of Europe began slowly taking 
shape after the Romans departed, people devised 
ways of measuring that would suit their particular 
needs. Goods were traded in wildly diverse units, 
depending on location and type of merchandise 
being bought or sold. In many cases, similar 
commodities such as corn and wheat weretraded in 
differing units. Tradespeople and those in some 
professional occupations further compounded the 
confusion by developing special measurements 
that bore no relation to any others So great was the 
muddle that various rulers enacted laws from time 
to time intended to establish dependable standards, 
but these efforts had little real effect. 

Then in 1 795 an event occurred that was to have 
far-reaching influence on the situation. France, 
which was caught up in the throes of revolution, 
adopted the metric system, the world's first 
complete, interlocking system of weights and 
measures. A French clergyman had devised the 
plan 100 years earlier, but it was not until the 
French Revolution, when old ways were being 
abruptly discarded for new ones, that France gave 
the system its official sanction. 

Embodying the latest scientific thinking of the 
day, the metric system was based on a new unit, the 
metre ("measure"), which equalled one 
ten-millionth of an arc extending from the North 
Pole to the Equator. From this single unit were 
derived the basic standards for length, weight, and 
volume. Full adoption of the metric system was 
delayed by political upheavals in France until 1840, 
at which time it was declared to be the law of the 
land. The new concept caught on quickly, as nation 
after nation switched over to it. By 1900, 35 
countries were using the new system. Great Britain 
and the United States were the only hold-outs 
among the major industrial nations at that time. 


In 1 790, the year ratification of the United States 
Constitution was completed, several proposals 
were put forth regarding the establishment of a 
standard for weights and measures for the new 
nation. One of these ideas was to improve on the 
system already in use — the "customary " system — 
which was essentially based on units carried over 
from England. Another proposal concerned a 
system based on decimal units, or units of tens, as is 
the metric system. Thomas Jefferson, the first 
Secretary of State, who reported to the Congress on 

the matter of weights and measures, advocated a 
system of his devising based on a 10-inch foot 
measure. Jefferson's plan was supported by 
President George Washington, but despite the fact 
that the country had already settled on a decimal 
system of coinage. Congress failed to come to any 
decision on the matter of standardizing weights and 
measures, then or for many years. 

In 1832, the Secretary of the Treasury designated 
the yard and the pound (avoirdupois) as the units of 
measure for the U. S. Custom Service. The next 
official action occurred in 1866, when Congress 
declared that the metric system was legal for use in 
this country. To this day, this has been the only 
instance in which Congress has sanctioned any 
system of measurement. The effect of that action 
was to provide us with two coexisting measurement 

An interesting point to note: despite the fact that 
the United States elected, by its failure to act, to stay 
with the standards that people were using at the 
time of the American Revolution, the units that 
make up the U. S. Customary System have since 
been defined in relation to metric measurements. In 
1893, the U. S. Treasury Department defined the 
yard in relation to the metre, and the pound, to the 

One of the mile-point markers (94.00) originally used along the 
California Aqueduct is supplemented bv its metric equivalent in 




Until 1 960, the metric nations of the world were 
also using systems with local variations in units. 
Then those countries standardized their systems by 
adopting the international System of Units. 

In 1 965, Great Britain joined the world's move to 
metric by announcing her intention to convert 
gradually to the metric system over a lO-year 
period. This left the United States as the only large 
country still using an unrelated system of weights 
and measures. 

President Johnson signed legislation in 1 968 that 
provided for a three-year program to determine how 
the increased use of metric units would affect this 
country. Then in December 1975, the Metric 
Conversion Act became a reality. At the time of 
signing. President Ford remarked: "The 
Government's function, through a U. S Metric 
Board that I shall appoint, will be to coordinate and 
synchronize increasing use of metric measurement 
in various sectors of our economy." 


Adopting SI units and adding them to reports and 
letters, as the Department of Water Resources has 
been doing since 1976, is a simple, economical 
method of getting used to the new system. 
However, changing complex modern machines, 
equipment, and tools is another matter. 

The State Water Project, which DWR operates, is 
the largest water delivery system ever built. In its 
first phase, completed in 1 973, the Project consists 
of 1 8 reservoirs, 1 5 pumping plants, 5 power plants, 
and 928kilometresof canals or aqueducts. Because 
construction of this enormous network predatedthe 
adoption of the metric system by DWR, it is based on 
the English measurement system. To alter the 
costly control mechanisms that regulate the flow of 
water through the Project before they need to be 
replaced would certainly be unsound. Therefore, 
the existing equipment will continue in use toserve 
its remaining useful life. However, some gage dials 
are being modified to indicate SI units, and when 
economically justified, new instruments are being 
obtained that bear SI scales. As other new 
equipment is purchased for the Project, 
consideration is given to its compatibility to future 

Mileage markers on concrete canal linings also 
state the corresponding measurement in 
kilometres. Both types of units will be retained in a 
legible condition until 1980, when DWR will have 
finished converting all essential documents, such 
as maps of the Project. 

Bridge in Fresno County across the Calitornia . 
both mile-point and kilometre markings. 

Staff gages that monitor water surface elevations 
in the Project's aqueducts and canals are 
coordinated with electronic monitoring and 
recording systems by which water operations are 
controlled. Since this control system involves 
computer programming, the task of converting 
various components to the metric system will not 
begin until 1981. The work is scheduled to be 
completed in 1983. 

In addition to running the State Water Project, 
DWR shares responsibility with the United States 
government for operating a system of levees, flood 
bypass channels, and reservoirs during flood 
seasons to contain the water that once devastated 
California's Central Valley. Kilometre markings will 
be placed on mileposts along flood control levees in 
the near future, and metric staff gages will be added 
to flood forecasting points to help in equating 
present flood stage measurements given in English 
units with metric units. 

In its surveying activities, DWR has been using 
metric equipment in first-order leveling for some 
time. It also uses the metric mode in electronic 
measuring equipment. For aerial mapping, DWR 
can convert its equipment to metric quite easily by 
replacing some gears. 

The foregoing examples of conversion by DWR 
are instances of "soft" conversion, or adopting a 
new system without physically changing the 
dimensions of objects. "Hard" conversion is the 
more radical step, where the change involves a 
move to engineering standards based on SI units. 


Since the nationwide conversion to the metric 
system is voluntary, hard conversion is chiefly a 
marketing and engineering responsibility of private 
industry. Some change has already taken place. 
Pharmaceuticals, soft drinks, and alcoholic 
beverages packaged in SI units are now on the 
market, and some automobiles are being built to SI 
specifications. As manufacturers find it economical 
to convert in order to expand sales in metric 
countries, we will see more American products with 
SI dimensions. But until standards have been 
developed that allow American machinery, steel 
beams, valves, pipes, and machine parts to be 
interchanged with products manufactured 
throughout the metric world, the United States 
cannot make a complete change to metrics. 

This, of course, affects the transition of the 
Department of Water Resources. DWR has selected 
a project to improve the quality of water in the 
Suisun Marsh. Plans and specifications for 
contracts to build low levees, canals, and culverts 
will state quantities and dimensions in metric units 
followed by English units in parentheses, although 
the culverts and other materials will be 
manufactured by the English system of 

By the end of 1 978, DWR took the final step in the 
publications area by issuing selected reports 
expressed in metric units without the 
accompanying conversions of the past two years. 
This issue of CALIFORNIA WATER is a good 
example of this move. Measurements throughout 
are stated only in metric units (except for a few 
instances where English units are necessary for 
historical or other reasons). 

DWR will continue to press forward toward 
greater use of the metric system in an orderly 

Information for this article was contributed by 

Eugene H. Gunderson 

Senior Engineer 

Division of Planning 


78648—950 -12/78 5n OSP 84 

m i 

Iff! e 1^ 


Bulletin 201 
April 1979 

Published a 

Copies may ' 


R m 1 .3 .1980 


utGi- 135] 


MAR 1 5 1982 


MAR f, ,. ,, 


State of I 

P. 0. Box, REFILED PSL- 



Other DWR 

available fror? 

requesting tliose for which a charge 


MAN ^ .■::■■ 


Book Slip-Series 458 SO 


is made, California 

Availability of all DWR publications def) 
we cannot supply you, please check ^ 
Many DWR bulletins (those bearing ar 
as well as other reports, are on file . 
libraries throughout the State. 

hand. If 



- public 

Films produced by DWR may be borrowt arge from its 

film library by writing to the above ad ailing at the 

Graphic Services Office, Room 216-2, I4lb Nmth Street, 
Sacramento, or by phoning (916) 445-3301 All films are 
1 6-millimetre, in color, with sound, and are also available in V^t- 
mch U-Matic cassettes. 


m4 I, 

^ e tf 

Bulletin 201-78 
April 1979 

Published at Sacramento, California, by the California 
Department of Water Resources. 

Copies may be obtained without charge by writing to: 

State of California 
Department of Water Resources 
P. 0. Box 388 
Sacramento, CA 95802 

Other DWR publications cited in CALIFORNIA WATER are also 
available from the above address. Many of them are free. When 
requesting tliose for which a charge! is made, California 
residents mu ol 'JUU l il t Olulu ji al uu lii<i. . J 

Availability of all DWR publications depends on stock on hand. If 
we cannot supply you, please check with your public library. 
Many DWR bulletins (those bearing an identification number), 
as well as other reports, are on file at more than 70 public 
libraries throughout the State. 

Films produced by DWR may be borrowed free of charge from its 
film library by writing to the above address, by calling at the 
Graphic Services Office, Room 216-2, 1416 Ninth Street, 
Sacramento, or by phoning (916) 445-3301. All films are 
1 6-millimetre, in color, with sound, and are also available in Va- 
inch U-Matic cassettes. 


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